Friday, June 15, 2012

The Benefits of Reading Fiction

We all know why we like to read fiction and why it's enjoyable, but stop and think of the many ways reading is good for our health, mentally and emotionally. And also good for our moral.

Brain exercise - This is a no brainer, pardon the pun. But reading, whether it's fiction or non fiction, forces you to stretch your brain muscles as you concentrate and associate the words with your senses.  It also does wonders for memory retention.

Entertainment - The book is usually better than the movie. Not always, but just sayin'. Fiction engages the imagination and enhances the fantasy of experiencing fictitious characters and events.

Mental Vacation - If you can't travel for real, you can at least travel in books. Venture to places real and imaginary, and you don't have to leave your chair to do it. Plus you save money on air fare and hotels. :)

Builds Fundamental Skills - You increase your vocabulary when you read, as well as your knowledge on subjects you may not be familiar with. It's fun to learn new things, even when it's through a fictional story. History, science, geography... There's a lot you can learn from books.

Enhances Creativity - Even though it's someone else's words on the page, it's your imagination that interprets those words and creates a storyworld unique to you. Even if the author describes a character down to her toenails, you use your imagination to form the image in your mind. What I see as a garbage strewn street in an abandoned city populated by zombies may look totally different to you. Reading turns you into your very own personal story teller.

Makes you a more interesting person - Seriously. Why? Because the stories you've read can be shared with family, friends and new acquaintances. It's fun to discover you have the same favorite books or authors as someone else because it creates commonality, gives you something to talk about, as you share ideas and thoughts. Talking about books can be an incredible ice breaker.

Naturally Sedative - If you're feeling stressed or having trouble falling asleep at night, a book can often help put your mind in a calmer state that makes sleep come more quickly. As long as it isn't an action scene, but to be honest, for me it doesn't matter what I'm reading. Reading increases beta waves in the brain, which increases focus and allows you to slip into a state more conducive to sleep.

Alters Mood - An uplifting story is known to lift a sour or sad mood. Romance novels are popular because they typically guarantee the reader a happy ending, so we know when we finish the story that we'll be happy, too.

Can you think of other benefits reading has to offer?


Julie Golden said...

Problem avoidance - You are unlikely to upset anyone's apple cart while a book is in your hands. You also avoid possible injury from tackling chores, instead of reading a good story.
Julie Golden

Karen Duvall said...

Hahaha, Julie! Good points. :) I'm all for avoiding potential problems and housework.

Paty Jager said...

Great list!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Karen.

I think reading helps us to understand other people better. This isn't why I read so much, of course, but it's related to one of the draws of reading. We're a social species and we're fascinated by other people. We like thinking about why they do things, why they want certain things, what their problems are, how they deal with them, how they find satisfaction in life, etc. Humans evolved in hunter/gatherer groups where their maximum lifetime contacts with other people were around 100-150. Through books, I've gotten intros to many, many times that number of people.


Diana Mcc. said...

Great post Karen! I agree with your list, absolutely, positively. For me the book is always better. I love the story unfolding and what my imagination does with it. In a movie, you don't get that opportunity.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Over the years, I've often used reading as an escape from real life, especially stressful jobs. Nowadays, if I go too long without reading a good book, I suffer from withdrawal. :D

Sarah Raplee said...

Anonymous is right - scientific research has been done regarding ability to empathize in readers versus non-readers. Fiction readers are significantly better at this.

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Paty.

Anon, you're so right about that. I remember hearing an editor speak at a conference who told us her brother gave her a hard time about being a fiction editor. He said it wasn't real life. And she said it's often more real than real life. I agree.

Thanks, Diana.

I agree, Pat. I've been reading a lot this weekend, mostly because I've discovered a new-to-me author and I'm so excited to have found her! It just opens up a whole new world for me and totally transports me somewhere else. She's amazing!

Yep, Sarah, I agree with Anon, too. :)

Thanks, Ladies, for stopping by! I appreciate your comments.

Julio Sporer said...

Another great advantage of reading fiction books is that it enriches your vocabulary and improves your writing skills. Reading forces us to look at words that we don’t usually encounter on a daily basis. Other than that, reading can broaden your understanding of other people. Studies shows that reading fiction increases your empathy and gives you a better understanding of people around you.