The Reading Life

For National Book Lovers Day, 5 Reasons to Read

For National Book Lovers Day, 5 benefits of readingThe bookish interwebs are buzzing today with fun and funny tributes to National Book Lovers Day, celebrated on Aug. 9 each year.

For some of us (like me!), every day is book lovers day. But I feel the spirit of setting aside one day a year to acknowledge and celebrate what you treasure. I mean, if grilled cheese sandwiches and yo-yos get a day, then books deserve one too, am I right?

To honor the occasion, I offer five great reasons to cultivate a love of books and invite you to share yours in the comments!

Reading fiction promotes empathy. Each one of us constitutes one body, one mind, one heart. But truly excellent novels put readers in the body, mind, and heart of an “other” (or others), clearing a path toward understanding difference, whether mundane or profound. This has certainly been my experience, but researchers at the University of Buffalo confirmed it.

Readers live longer.  A recent study published in Social Science & Medicine found that people who read an average of 30 minutes a day live approximately two years longer than non-readers. Basically, as the study put it, “the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.” Assuming you read 25 – 50 books a year, that’s an extra 50 – 100 books per lifetime (impressive math skills, eh?). I will be adding titles to my to-be-read list in honor of this exciting news!

Reading can reduce stress. Back in 2009, researchers at the University of Sussex found that reading as few as six minutes per day can reduce stress levels. And it works more effectively than listening to music or taking a walk. This may be because reading requires concentration, thus providing a mental release from the environment that’s causing the stress. So let us give us cheer for reading to escape! Or perhaps I should call it reading for stress relief.

Being a reader means you never have to be bored. Nothing sets my teeth on edge quite like hearing these three words in a row: “I am bored.” It’s boring to be bored, and bored people are boring. When you read books, you always have something interesting waiting for you to do—because there are more books in the world than any one of us can ever read—and you always have something interesting to talk about with others. To summarize: readers are interesting people to spend time with.

Books will follow you anywhere and take you where you’ve never been. Whether it’s a long line at the DMV, a relaxing day at the beach, a transatlantic flight, you can take your books with you wherever you go, and they won’t leave you. But! This does not mean they merely follow your whims. Books will take you where you never dreamed you could go—like Bolshevik Russia (Doctor Zhivago) or Victorian England (David Copperfield (Penguin Classics)) or even the battlefields of Ancient Greece (The Iliad)—and those experiences can change what you see and feel and how you walk around in the world.

What are your favorite books and/or things about reading and books?

2 thoughts on “For National Book Lovers Day, 5 Reasons to Read

  1. This was such a great read! Plus, I’m happy to hear I can maybe live longer just by doing something I love to do (unlike exercise and eating vegetables, ugh). 🙂

    Also, the stress thing is something I definitely understand. I’m a generally nervous person, but when I get really into a book, I’m transported. It’s cool that this has actually been studied.

    Thanks for sharing these facts – and for the joyful and thought-provoking posts you write all year ’round, too!

    1. Thank you so much, Alysa! I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled on that golden nugget, as I’d much rather curl up with a great book that go to a gym, ha. The studies on reading are so fascinating. I can’t wait to see what they learn next!

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