We love reading. So we find every excuse to convince everyone that they should be doing it. Now we have scientific proof.
At first glance, reading seems like a solitary hobby—if anything, a little anti-social. Readers hunker down with their books, shunning human interaction in favor of private escapism. Yet plenty of recent scientific studies show that reading can in fact strengthen our social bonds.
True, bookworms might prefer peace and quiet as they finish a page-turner, but their reading habits foster empathy and give them greater emotional intelligence. These benefits, in turn, enrich habitual readers’ interactions with friends and family. Moreover, the social benefits of reading contribute to better health and longevity.
The infographic below highlights the many scientifically-backed benefits of reading, including the formation of closer social bonds. Here’s a preview:
While reading is of course enjoyable and relaxing, it also gives the brain a good workout! As you read, you enter intricate fictional worlds and learn in-depth about new topics. You might ask questions, draw connections among texts you’ve read, and apply what you learn to your own life. You may be untangling the motives of suspected murderers in an Agatha Christie novel or watching a love story slowly blossom—either way, you’re engaging in something called “deep reading,” which increases empathy for others and improves social perception. You bring those skills with you once you turn the last page and reenter the “real world.”
Greater empathy and emotional intelligence then help you develop stronger relationships, which provide comfort in hard times and celebration in good times. A strong social network is associated with greater longevity and better health.
Also, keep in mind that reading doesn’t have to be enjoyed alone. There are many ways to make it more social, like joining (or starting) a book club! Studies have shown that book clubs are a helpful non-medical treatment for people with depression. In one study, people who had been diagnosed with depression joined a reading group. After meetings, they reported feeling more confident and outgoing, and they were more willing to interact with other group members.
There are plenty of resources available to help you get start your own book club. For example, check out these guidelines if you’re a fan of the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, which applies centuries-old sacred reading practices to the modern text of Harry Potter.
Read on to learn more in this infographic by Global English Editing where the benefits of reading are discussed. Reading not only forges stronger social connections, but also lowers stress, promotes good sleep, and keeps your mind sharp!