If you’re a fellow bibliophile, then you’re definitely already winning in my book — but, from one book-lover to another, reading isn’t the only thing you totally excel at. There are just some things readers do better than anyone else — from improved mental health to having better relationships (and you know you give better book recommendations than anybody) all that book loving you’re doing is paying off in a big way. (In case you really needed another excuse to fill an Amazon cart and stay in on a Friday night with Pride and Prejudice. AGAIN.)
But if you’re not yet peppering your Instagram feed with some serious #shelfie content, and are looking for a reason to add more reading into your life, then listen up: there are tons of mental, emotional, and other health and lifestyle benefits of reading books, well beyond their obvious entertainment value — and I’ve listed a bunch of them for you below. Everything from helping you become a better friend, to improving your memory, to totally upping your Scrabble game can be found by cracking open a novel (or, you know, several.)
Check out these nine things readers do better than anyone else — and then get reading!
1. Readers are great at reducing stress and finding tranquility in tense situations.
This is because reading itself has shown to significantly reduce stress and increase feelings of peacefulness and tranquility — it's like a mini vacation for your mind, after all. A 2015 report from the U.K.-based organization The Reading Agency, which looked at the non-academic benefits of reading, showed that participants who reported regularly reading for pleasure (especially fiction) were not only less likely to experience stress and anxiety, but were better able to cope with those feelings when they occurred — even when compared to watching television or engaging with technology in another way. Just one more reason to bring a book with you everywhere.
2. Literature can make you more empathetic.
A 2006 study by York University found that readers tend to have a greater capacity for empathy than their non-reader peers. This is partly due to the fact that readers spend so much time immersed in the stories, thoughts, and feelings of others. That deep understanding being cultivated on the page transfers into a book lover’s life off the page. Pretty cool, huh?
3. Reading is great for memory.
Separate studies conducted by researchers at Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon show that reading is all kinds of wonderful for your brain matter — improving the actual structure of your brain, increasing both white brain matter and blood flow, and helping improve cognitive function and memory. Think of it like CrossFit for your brain cells (only way less sweaty.)
4. Book-lovers love to listen.
If you’re looking for a new bestie, you might want to set your sights on a reader. (Or, if you’re trying to be a better BFF, head to your nearest bookshelf.) Research has shown that due to our increasingly internet-centered world, the human attention span is actually in decline. But not so for readers. Since reading doesn’t allow time to multitask, and complex plots require a focus on details, reading actually helps improve your ability pay attention and concentrate for longer periods of time. Plus, in case you haven’t heard, readers have tons of empathy. All of the above makes your book lovin’ buds great listeners.
5. Readers make better romantic partners.
Has anybody made a dating app for readers yet? Because as it turns out, bibliophiles don’t just make great book lovers — they make great people lovers too. (You’ve already read that readers are more empathetic, and are great listeners, so this probably comes as no surprise.) According to several studies, readers make better romantic partners for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that they’re more capable of something called “theory of mind” — which basically means you don’t instantly unfriend people who disagree with you, but listen to their thoughts, opinions, and feelings without going totally bananas. Also, and I’ll just throw this out there: romantically-inclined readers might be way more likely to let you borrow the books on their shelves. Now, about that dating app…
6. Readers kick ass at Scrabble — and all Scrabble-like things.
Contrary to what you might have heard on the 2016 campaign trail, readers have the best words. And I mean, all the best words. Readers are like walking, talking, Word of the Day calendars, if you’re into that kind of thing. (And isn't everybody?)
7. Literature can make you a better writer.
Combine having all the best words (see above) with increased brain function, an understanding of complex story structure, and an improved attention span and what do you get? (Well, other than a reader, that is.) That’s right: a writer. Whether it’s your dream to compose the next great American novel or you just want to be able to send an e-mail that’ll totally impress your boss, upping the minutes you spend reading each day (and I’m talking reading literature here) will definitely improve those writing skills.
8. Nobody takes a #shelfie like a book-lover.
Not only do readers take the best shelfies, we can also probably summarize the plot of every book in the picture. Talk about a neat party trick.
9. Book-lovers are great at recommending books — duh.
Not to brag too much, but I am definitely the gal my friends come to when their TBR piles are looking a little low. The thing about book lovers is that not only do we love the books we love, we also respect the books we don’t love — by the simple merit that they’re books, and books rock. A reader won’t just give you reading recs off their own shelves, they’ll give you reading recs that you’ll enjoy, even if they don’t share your passion for thrillers (or westerns, or historical fiction, etc.)