I’ve always believed that people who read are people who are nice. You see, they don’t just call us ‘book fairies’ for nothing! As it turns out, science is on my side, too!
Reading does, indeed make you a better person in at least 10 scientifically proven ways.
1. Readers are calmer human beings.
According to research conducted by the Mindlab International, at the University of Sussex, reading for 6 minutes can reduce stress levels up to 68 per cent, causing readers to be more relaxed and calm in nature.
Imagine what wonders reading for an hour would do!
2. Readers are more attentive to others.
Baroness Susan Greenfield, a well known neuroscientist, reveals that reading regularly increases our attention span and improve one’s ability to focus better and think more clearly.
3. Readers remember things better.
People who read regularly are said to have more complex brains that function at a slightly higher level; a fact proven by Ken Pugh, President and Director of Research at the Haskin’s Laboratories, in Yale. Better memory helps us remember important dates and incidents long after they’re forgotten by most.
4. Readers are generally intelligent people.
In 2009, a brain-imaging study showed how a reader’s brain could actually experience the sound, scenery, smell and taste that was described in a page of a book!
John Stein, a professor of neuroscience at the Magdalene College, in Oxford further stated that reading exercises the entire brain. The brain functions better when we read regularly.
5. Readers are more empathetic towards others.
Reading about characters in a book actually makes a person better able to relate to others in real life. Having such a skill is often referred to as Theory of Mind, in the neurological space.
According to David Comer Kidd and Emmanuel Castano:
“Literary fiction—often described as narratives that focus on in-depth portrayals of subjects’ inner feelings and thoughts—can be linked to theory of mind processes, especially those that are involved in the understanding or simulation of the affective characteristics of the subjects.”
6. Readers generally sleep better at night.
The Mayo Clinic even recommends reading a book if you have trouble falling asleep at night. And if you sleep well, you wake up feeling fresh, purposeful and happier.
According to Anne-Marie Chang, a neuroscientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, a book helps you relax sooner than looking at a screen at night. Books are known to help people sleep better and even cure insomnia.
7. Readers are always mentally stimulated beings.
Reading engages various different areas and functions of the brain; when compared to most other activities. It means you don’t have a one-track mind the way most people around you do.
Nueroscientist, Baronness Susan Greenfield further explains:
“Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end – a structure that encourages our brains to think in sequence, to link cause, effect and significance.”
8. Readers communicate and express better.
Books help the reader to articulate, describe and explain better. Readers will always be better able to express themselves, even in the most complex emotional situations.
Books are also a great way to learn a new language, as well, according to Allison Lounes, an International Studies Coach, at Paris Unraveled.
9. Readers are perceptive in nature.
According to Cristell Russell, a Consumer Behaviour Researcher, the concept of rereading a book also offers the reader a newer perspective on the story and gives the reader a chance to reflect on oneself in a healthy and positive light. Your reading habit makes you more perceptive as a human being.
10. Readers can fight memory loss and maybe, even Alzheimer’s Disease, better.
According to a study in the Archives of Neurology, in the University of California, Berkeley, reading on a daily basis from a young age could help counter Alzheimer’s by preventing the formation of the amyloid plaques said to be found in the brains of those suffering from the disease. This is not just good for you, but also for your loved ones.
So, in case you want to be a better version of yourself, I suggest you pick up a book.