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HOW BOOKS IMPROVE OUR LIVES: The Benefits of Reading

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved books. I still remember the first time I visited our school library. I had just started reading, and I went there to borrow books to read. Entering that magical place felt like entering a new universe. I was mesmerized by the feeling of being there in the library surrounded by so many books. It felt like heaven then and it still does whenever I’m in a bookstore, a library, or just around books.

My books are my most precious possession and I care for them as if they were part of my family. I have this game I invented around books… I buy a book in every new place I visit, or in every new airport I travel through. And if I go to the same place in two different years, I’m allowing myself to buy another book, or two, or three… Every book I have has the location and year of purchase marked on it. My books are not just reading material, but also memories of all the places I’ve been to. And I’ve been to many places, so you can imagine I have quite the collection.

There are so many benefits of reading and so many reasons I love books, but here are my top three reasons:

The joy of exploring new worlds

Exploring new places always comes with the thrill of discovering new things. That’s why we love traveling, going to new holiday places, new museums and new restaurants. (Just a side not here… I also love food very much, so I just had to add the restaurant reference, otherwise my list wouldn’t be complete.)

Book with quote "There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island" (Walt Disney)

With books, you can be an explorer with every new page you turn. Writers have that special ability of catapulting you into a whole new world by using such a simple tool as the word. They will throw you in right there in the middle of all the action. Once engulfed in that whole new world, you’ll actively take part in uncovering mysteries, solving murders, and meeting new people. Imaginary as these new people may be, talented writers can make you love or hate a character. They can bring all these new worlds to life, and so a new adventure begins.

Escaping reality

We all have our imaginary stories that we create when we are children. Unfortunately, this creativity steps aside as we grow up and we exchange our imaginary worlds and people for the real ones. We start living in the real world and forget about the ones we used to create as children. In my case, and in the case of many others who love to write, these imaginary worlds keep on living through our creative writing.

With the help of books and talented authors, we can temporarily return to those imaginary worlds. And sometimes that is all we need to get a break from the hardships of the real world. Books have helped me through some of my toughest times. It’s a way of escaping reality for a few moments (hours) and relaxing my brain. And when I’m ready to get back to the real world, thanks to my quick trip to a different world, I can better evaluate situations and find solutions to my problems.

Learning new things

You’d maybe assume this is more for non-fiction books. While it’s true that you can learn a lot from non-fiction books, the truth is you can learn just as much from reading fiction. There is so much to learn from fiction books!

To start with, you learn about new places that you haven’t had the chance to visit. A talented writer will describe the places in such a way that will make you see them through your mind’s eyes. Learning about all these new places from fiction always makes me want to go visit them, and, thus, I get new ideas for future holidays. The best example here are Dan Brown‘s books. Reading his books always makes me very curious to visit all those places where the action from his books takes place.

Another great example of books from which I’ve learned a lot are the books of James Rollins. I love his books because, on one hand, they’re packed with action, and, on the other hand, he always describes at the end of his books which details from his book were real. You get to learn a lot of new fascinating things about the world from his books.

And one more, as a bonus… the benefits of reading for the brain

Oh yes! This is a big one! And it’s backed by science!

Neuroscientists have shown that reading can have significant benefits for the brain. Don’t assume they’re talking about reading non-fiction so that the benefit you got would be from the fact you’ve learned something new. No, I’m talking about fiction books here.

The neuroscientists have shown how reading fiction and putting yourself in the shoes of the characters can help improve theory of mind. That means that it will help you improve your social interactions by becoming more aware of other people’s feelings, beliefs, and perspectives. Moreover, in another study, neuroscientists have shown that reading fiction can also improve brain connectivity. Who wouldn’t want that?! You can read the full details of this study in this Psychology Today article that summarizes the findings of the different research studies on the effects of reading on the brain.

Stephen King, the greatest living writer (in my opinion), depicts the psychology of people extremely well in his books. He dives so deep into the minds of his characters that he makes you think you’ve known each character for years. His books definitely help you become more aware of other people’s beliefs and perspectives, some that can differ greatly from your own.

So… next time you’re thinking of binge watching a TV series on Netflix, consider reading a book instead. Your brain will thank you for it!

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