Reading stimulates neurological regions in your brain as if you’re living the experience. For example, some researchers in Spain found that just reading the word “cinnamon” activates the olfactory brain regions responsible for smell. Furthermore, French researchers found that reading about actions stimulates the motor cortex, the movement section of the brain.
Fiction Builds Our Understanding of one Another
Keith Oatley, PhD, professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto says that “if you read about genetics, you learn about genes. If you read fiction, you learn about people, others, and yourself.” This is because reading provides a unique opportunity to submerge yourself in another person’s thoughts and feelings, which research has suggested can expand empathy and increase social ability.
So what books are best for building empathy? Well, according to Oatley, the best kind of books are romance and detective stories as these are literary instead of being merely plot-driven.
Reading Can Make You Stress Less
Losing yourself in a book is possibly the ultimate relaxation. Researchers at the University of Sussex found that reading is a huge stress buster, beating listening to music, taking a walk, and drinking a cup of tea. In fact, reading can reduce stress by as much as 68%. This is great for your health and happiness as stress can zap energy, mess with your libido, and make you more susceptible to disease.
We already know that money isn’t the secret to happiness, so what is? Research has shown that life experiences make you happier than material things, but that’s not the end of this story. A more recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology shows that experiential products designed to create or enhance life experiences, such as books, are total happiness boosters.
Furthermore, reading can help you fill up your fulfillment tank. A University of North Texas study found that older adults who read and learn are more satisfied with their lives.
Books Build Your Brain’s Grey Matter
Getting lost in a great book can prevent you from losing your memory. A study by Rush University Medical Center published in Neurology found that doing mentally stimulating activities throughout your life, such as reading, can lead to a 32% decrease in cognitive decline. Another study found that those who engage in brainy pursuits were 2.5 times less likely to contract Alzheimer’s.