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In the past, reading was hugely popular. While an excellent past time and gateway for socializing, reading could also be so much more – a way to convey information, build culture, and form opinions. It may have declined in popularity since the internet exploded onto the scene, but the culture surrounding reading has evolved to keep up with the times. 

Nowadays there are online forums, fanart communities, games, merchandise, fanfiction, BookTok (the book side of TikTok), and more. Reading doesn’t just have to be for university, college, school, or work. It’s incredibly fun when you read for leisure too – and it has plenty of benefits in store for you. Here are just some of them. 

1. A stronger brain 

You know that exercising is good for you, so why not exercise your brain? When you read, you stimulate complex networks of signals and circuits in your brain. The more you read, the stronger and more sophisticated these networks become. 

What’s more is that this connectivity doesn’t just increase during the time you’re reading, but for days after as well. Just as with the rest of your body, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. 

2. More empathy

When you read material that covers other people’s lives, stories, or experiences, you will experience what it’s like to be them. This gives you a sneak peek into what other people are thinking and feeling as well as why they do what they do. 

Reading a variety of material makes you more empathetic as you’ll be better able to understand where people are coming from and the reasoning behind their thoughts and actions. You’ll find more kindness, patience, selflessness, and compassion as a result. 

This can strengthen your current relationships as well as help you to make new ones. 

3. A bigger vocabulary

One of the biggest perks of reading is discovering new words and new ways of using them. Expanding your vocabulary can help you to place names onto thoughts, feelings, situations, and more. For example, imagine that you’ve always loved the smell of the first rain that comes after a long dry spell. All your life you’ve wanted to have word for that. There is one – petrichor. Now not only can you put a name to it, but you can share that knowledge with others. 

Learning new words is fun too. Did you know that there’s a word in English for throwing someone out of a window? Yes, really – it’s defenestration!

4. Cognitive decline prevention

Just like exercising your body helps it stay in shape as you get older, exercising your brain by reading helps to prevent it from declining cognitively. 

This means that reading will help to decrease your chances of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as preserve memory, problem-solving skills, and communication skills. 

5. Better sleep

If you find that you need to do an activity before bed to wind down and transition to falling asleep, you will probably have scrolling on your phone as the default. That can affect your circadian rhythm however, as the light from your phone makes your brain think that it’s still daylight. In turn, you can have trouble falling asleep. 

Reading on the other hand can relax you and send you right to sleep without beaming light and overwhelming amounts of information into your eyeballs. 

6. Better memory and focus

Reading is an activity where you pay attention to the same thing for an extended period of time. Unlike watching TV however, you are actively participating. This means that reading trains your brain to have better memory and focus as you need to pay attention in order to keep up with the story, the characters, the places, and names. 

You’ll be surprised by what a difference reading makes to how easy studying is, or remembering details of your friends’ lives. 

7. Better mental health

Anxiety and depression can often cause you to feel like you’re stuck in a loop, unable to do even the simplest of tasks, and completely and totally isolated. 

Reading can provide a welcome escape from what you’re going through. It can give you the chance to live someone else’s life for a little while and provide solace when you’re going through something that feels like it’ll never end. 

Additionally, if you read self-help and other non-fictional books, you can also discover tips that can help you in the long-term to treat your anxiety and/or depression. 

8. Better communication 

You end up picking up a lot of experience on dealing with others by reading. You can discover new ways to communicate that will help you deal with difficult characters in your life, bridge the gap between you and others that aren’t like you, and put your thoughts and feelings into words. 

Improved communication doesn’t just benefit your external relationships, it benefits your relationship with yourself too. Working on your ability to verbalize your thoughts and feelings gives you power over them and is a huge step to working on better emotional management. 

9. A longer life

And finally, reading can even help you live longer. There was a study that showed people who read lived on average 2 years longer than those who didn’t. So if you’d like to be around long enough to see if we ever get to Mars, start reading!

What should you read?

You can reap the many benefits of reading by reading anything. There is no superiority to reading one thing over another. Pick up whatever catches your fancy. Fiction, non-fiction, thrillers, mysteries, romances. 

You don’t even need to be reading just books, because reading anything non-electronic will give you these benefits and more – magazines, articles, journals, newspapers, etc. If you’re not reading before bed then you’re fine to read on electronic devices as well, opening up even more options for reading. 

Now that you’re done reading this, what are you moving onto next?