8 Benefits of Reading (or Ways Reading Makes You Better at Life)

Last updated: May 15, 2017

the benefits of reading
Photo by celeste

The public library is a phenomena that to this day I still can’t get over. Free knowledge, for anyone. Literally, anyone. I can’t think of an equivalent other than going to a clothing store, “checking out” an outfit, wearing the outfit and returning it in four weeks, free of charge.

Except books are so much better than clothes.

Recently I’ve been on a huge reading kick, checking out anything I can get my hands on in the library.

I’ve found that no matter what I read, the act of reading every day has helped me in nearly every aspect of my life. Here are a few of my favorite ways that reading has improved my quality of life, and will definitely improve yours.

1. Enhanced Smarts

Wow, this may be the most obvious statement of the post, right? Well, it turns out that reading helps in almost every area of smarts. Those that read have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those that don’t. In Anne E. Cunningham’s paper What Reading Does for the Mind (pdf version), she found that reading, in general, makes you smarter, and it keeps you sharp as you age.

No matter what you’re wanting to do or become, you can’t do it without more knowledge. Reading is an excellent way to get where you’re wanting to go.

2. Reading reduces stress

When I’m reading a book, my mind shifts gears. Where I might have a had a stressful day, a book can easily distract me. Fiction is fantastic for this. Reading an awesome fiction book is perfect right before bed time. Though sometimes it’s hard to put the book down if it’s really good. Still, you’ll be relaxed ;)

Photo by MorBCN

3. Greater tranquility

Reading can soothe like no other. Given that I’m a pretty high-energy person, reading forces me to sit and be still. This daily act of making myself be quiet and still has been nothing short of miraculous for my anxiety and my “fidgety factor”.

Lisa Bu has a fantastic TED talk about how reading can open you mind. It’s only 6 minutes and well worth a watch.

4. Improved analytical thinking

That’s right, ladies and germs. Cunningham’s studies have found that analytical thinking is boosted by reading. Readers improve their general knowledge, and more importantly are able to spot patterns quicker. If you can spot patterns quicker, your analytical skills receive a boost.

5. Increased vocabulary

child reading
Photo by thejbird

It’s no secret that reading increases your vocabulary and improves your spelling, but did you know that reading increases your vocabulary more than talking or direct teaching? Reading forces us to look at words that we might not have seen or heard recently at the pub. In fact, language in children’s books are likely to be more sophisticated than your average conversation.

Increased vocabulary is especially crucial for bloggers or writers. All successful writers will tell you that in order to write well, you need to read. Every day. You’ll be surprised at the words you start incorporating into your writing.

A beefier vocabulary isn’t just for writers though. Knowing what other people are saying and using the perfect words to convey your feelings is a critical part of being a better human. Better listeners are more successful in life.

(Side note: If you’re concerned with your well-being at previously mentioned pub, you might lay off the more obnoxious terms you’ve picked up.)

6. Improved memory

I have an awful memory. Just ask my fiancee. I usually can’t remember what I’ve eaten for breakfast, let alone things like names and address. Yet I’ve been finding that I can remember stuff much easier when I’ve been reading consistently. Do I have any scientific data to match this up? Not really. But I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that reading has somehow given me memory mojo.

7. Improved writing skills

This isn’t much of a stretch, considering that reading improves vocabulary and critical thinking. I feel like a better writer, as I’m constantly surrounding myself with works from people who are better than me. That’s why English classes in High School make you read “the classics”. That’s why art students learn to copy masterpieces, so they know what creating something incredible should feel like.

The more you read, the better of a writer you’ll become.

Photo by prosperina*

8. Helps prioritize goals

Many times we’re certain we know what we “really want” in life. Yet I’ve found that activities like reading show me things I didn’t know about myself. My mind will drift to things that I’d really like to do, and it isn’t long that these little lapses in reading start to cycle. The same sort of goals keep popping into my head, allowing me to see what I really want to do.

For example, I’ve been playing music on a consistent basis, but I’ve always wanted to produce and distribute my own music. As I’ve been reading, I’ve found that song ideas and other general thoughts on music keep popping into my head. It’s my times reading that have really pushed me into giving music a serious go.

When you remove yourself from your work environment, you’ll start to see things that you might really want to do, that you’re not doing yet. Reading gives you a chance for your mind to wander.

No time to read? No money for books?

If you think that you don’t have enough time to start reading, you’re wrong. How do I know? Because we make time for the things that are important to us. How much TV do you watch? How much time do you spend trawling the web? You could easily replace reading with those activities.

If you’re worried about the cost of books, check ’em out at the local library. Most libraries take advantage of the interlibrary loan system, so you can check out nearly any book on the planet. I also use Worldcat to find libraries in the area that might have my book.

There’s really no excuse to start reading on a regular basis. The benefits far outweigh the costs, and more knowledge never hurt anybody.

Ready to start reading? You might also be interested in How to Focus on Reading and my book summary of How to Read a Book.

Leave a Comment

{ 163 comments… add one }
  • Krishaan Ramsey September 28, 2021, 11:57 am

    You are an awesome librarian

  • Karina Alvarado August 2, 2021, 6:57 am

    I suffered a traumatic brain injury and ever since I met my husband, he got me reading and I am even taking some classes at the local college. It all worked! I do not feel, sound, or look disabled. Reading and knowledge were the best medicine for me.

  • Eli Richardson March 18, 2021, 9:00 am

    I love that you talked about how reading helps you expand your vocabulary. In my opinion, we should at least read one book per month. In that way, we’ll be learning about a specific topic, or we’ll learn new words and travel to another land. I appreciate you talked about the perks of reading.

  • sana January 2, 2021, 7:27 am

    I was simply inundated with glee when I saw your opinion on reading helping memory–it is a crucial part of the intellect. After dwelling in the degradation of my mind for so long (by means of a perpetual use of disreputable chemicals), I’ve decided to return to reading to broaden my perspective, absorb new information, and retrain my brain. I found this article on google, out of a curiosity as to whether or not reading improved memory, and it caught my eye.

  • Levi Armstrong September 15, 2020, 7:54 am

    I agree with what you said that reading promotes tranquility since it forces you to focus on a simple task where you would need to be still and quiet. That’s probably why I enjoy reading books or blogs on my iPad a lot. With what you’ve said, I’ll continue allowing at least an hour of my day reading a books or blogs to give myself time to be relaxed in a peaceful setting. Hopefully, I find new blogs to read soon that would keep me entertained for an hour a day. Thanks for this!

  • Anna Davis August 13, 2020, 11:36 pm

    It’s great that reading can distract you from the stress of daily life. My therapist recommended that I take on a new hobby to keep myself occupied. I think I will try reading since it is both entertaining and beneficial in other ways.

  • Neeraj Kumar July 7, 2020, 12:48 pm

    Books are amazing things that can be both entertaining and beneficial to your health. They are almost like tools to a healthy lifestyle. Those who don’t read can’t understand the love for reading, but those who read on a daily basis know the importance of diving into a good book.
    Btw can you suggest me some good books that everyone should read so that I can add it in my reading list.

  • Levi Armstrong June 24, 2020, 4:27 am

    It’s interesting to know that reading can not only enhance your vocabulary and writing skills, it can also boost your analytical skills. My wife and I were avid readers when we were kids, and now that we have a growing child, we want him to also enjoy reading and reap its benefits. Perhaps I should look for paranormal mystery books that can pique his interest since he’s such a huge fan of the old Scooby-Doo series. Thanks for this!

  • Janna February 17, 2020, 7:30 pm

    So many benefits to reading for adults and children (and children being read to). To be literate is a precious gift that will last a lifetime. Please be sure to give this gift to your children.

  • Mia November 8, 2019, 3:41 am

    Learned so much and it really helps for my writing homework since I’m doing it on books

  • Amare Yilma September 27, 2019, 8:55 pm

    I really like all the comments I get.please help me more how to get Back to my reading habits again.

  • Shaira Diaz May 3, 2019, 5:59 pm

    It sure was nice when you said that reading can actually distract you if you’re having a stressful day because it can relax you. With that in mind, I will consider shopping for books about happiness. Since I lost my husband due to an accident, I can’t help but feel lonely at night. I want to appreciate what I have and divert my attention when I feel so bad.

  • Erica April 2, 2019, 7:26 pm

    What book do you recommend i start with? Want to start enriching my brain but never know what book to read.

    • Amber April 20, 2019, 10:35 am

      The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a great place to start. For lots more ideas, try Goodreads.com.

  • iris March 15, 2019, 9:25 am

    amazing i learned so much thanks

  • Maya a m January 16, 2019, 9:54 pm

    Very informative..

  • Advira ballantyne January 7, 2019, 3:21 pm

    Thanks for your advice

  • Ellen H. January 1, 2019, 8:14 pm

    I like that you said that reading can give you more knowledge and can help you to be smarter based on your needs. My husband and I want our son to be potty trained. To be honest, we don’t have the skills and the expertise to ensure that our son will smoothly learn how to use potties. I will consider buying a training book that we can use.

  • Sharon Wilson-Smith November 9, 2018, 6:58 pm

    You got me when you said that reading fiction books can help you to be distracted when you had a stressful day. My brother will surely appreciate what you said because he has been looking for ways to alleviate his stress. He said that he’d like to divert his attention to other things, so I’ll share your blog with him.

  • AG October 4, 2018, 12:44 pm

    Very nice article, congratulation! I have to say, from my own experience, books can help overcome the depression. I’m not sure about clinical depression, but I was feeling depressed by lack of accomplishments in life. And that’s when I decided to start reading book (two years ago) so I can improve my knowledge which will lead me to better career opportunities in life.

    And over time I did learn a lot of new, useful things in life. I do mostly read business and self-development/improvements books, I don’t focus on reading fiction books etc. Although I have to admit that I do get depressed from time to time (which is normal,) but it’s not where near how to used to be depressed and miserable for weeks, even whole month. Now I’m back on my feet within day or two.

    I hope that you will not mind if I share link of my blog here. I have a book blog where I write reviews and summaries of books that I’ve read. I hope that will be helpful for other people to find good books to read and learn from.



  • William Burns September 10, 2018, 8:30 am

    So well expressed and I began reading at age 4 as my dad was such an avid reader. Although I became 100% deaf at age 9, beginning to read early was an enormous benefit and that was a very positive factor during my life. Many people are simply stunned at how well I can communicate, and also that I have such advanced writing abilities. Reading enrichened my life to such a degree, I am grateful my father was such an influence. I DO NOT watch TV…I READ, no commercials to deal with in a book.

  • Ellen Hughes July 12, 2018, 6:50 pm

    You got my attention when you said that reading books can help people to enhance their intelligence and general knowledge. My priority is to make sure that my son is going to excel academically, so I’m looking for ways to improve his knowledge. I heard that he’s interested in the history of the world, so I’ll make sure to buy him history books.

  • Csgo Hacks February 24, 2018, 10:31 am

    Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so
    I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would
    be enormously appreciated!

    • Amber February 25, 2018, 5:53 am

      Hosted WordPress is the place to get started. You don’t have to know any coding, and everything is done in a visual editor.

  • Swati S Chauhan February 13, 2018, 9:30 am

    Reading helps me to deal a lot in my daily stuff

  • Deeksha June 26, 2017, 10:03 pm

    Good benefits if someone doesn’t read books after reading this they will surely start.

  • kinggamingdoge May 9, 2017, 6:56 pm

    OMG! This totally helps because I have to do this Brain Presentation. This will work on one of my slides. THANK YOU!
    ~Doge, your majesty

  • Poop Poopy May 8, 2017, 9:25 am

    This stuff is 100% lit fam, I mean really my dope sun wanted to read stuff with hiz peeps and now i can give him reasons why he can reed

  • Larry Egly May 5, 2017, 4:27 pm

    This info is great. I was concerned about cognitive decline now that I am 65, but now I know that reading(something I love and have been doing for Years any way) can keep my mind sharp age I age.

  • essay topics for frankenstein by mary shelley April 3, 2017, 5:20 am

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  • aselemo dulunavitilevu March 11, 2017, 3:55 am

    reading has help me alot

    • aselemo dulunavitilevu March 11, 2017, 3:57 am

      also this information has helped to carry out a research on reading for pleasure

  • luwela tabay March 4, 2017, 7:09 pm

    This information helps a lot in my research studies . Thank you for blogging . Hope to see a lot more . ?

  • Oscar Emil Theisen March 2, 2017, 12:47 am

    I really like myself

  • Mukesh kumar Chauhan March 1, 2017, 10:07 am

    it is very nice comment. ……

  • Mireya February 26, 2017, 7:50 pm

    dog g?ooming is the specialty of my sister,
    she really ?oves grooming every dog iin our house`

  • Mikel February 25, 2017, 11:48 pm

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  • salmo April 7, 2011, 3:56 am

    i am a library of books………i’ve got many e books on my laptop if anyone wants they can send on this email salmaseyam@hotmail.com what book they want and ill send you an attachment of the book!!! Don’t worry I’m not a stalker =)

  • Lynn March 28, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Awesome! Love this article! I spent a couple days looking for this article. Thanks!

  • Your Mother March 7, 2011, 12:41 pm

    Ehhh, i gotta go to bed, now make me some dinner!

    • Your Father March 7, 2011, 12:42 pm

      Hey dude, i am you :P

      • Your Mother March 7, 2011, 12:43 pm

        Hey wassup me?! How’s life going?? :D

      • Your Father March 7, 2011, 12:50 pm

        It’s good, but i don’t think we’re talking about anything that is even remotely similar or even revelant to the topic of this page, which is the benefits of reading. Don’t you hate those people who change the COMPLETE SUBJECT OF THE PAGE! DON’T YOU JUST FREAKING HATE THOSE PEOPLE??! *winks at the audience* ;D

        heh. i just broke the fourth wall :DD lol.

      • Your Mother March 7, 2011, 12:52 pm

        Cool story bro.

  • Ms. George-Jean Wynter January 23, 2011, 11:49 am

    I’m writing a paper, and would like to quote your article; “8 Major Benefits of Reading.” However, your article does not include a date written or author. Please advise me on how you would like me to credit your article in my paper. Thanks for your response. Jean*

  • bellal January 20, 2011, 6:11 am

    dear all i am from afghanistan actually i am in 9th grade and i like to reading alot according to read alot i have seen learn vocublary and i have information about every thing

  • travesti December 24, 2010, 8:02 am

    Fine information, many thanks to the author

  • Griffen Mezzo December 18, 2010, 11:05 pm

    I was searching for something like this because, lateley, I have been reading more than I normally do, and I’ve been noticing some benefits, all of which are mentioned on this page. I’ve noticed that my memory has been better than ever and that I’ve been a bit less stressed out than I usually am. Plus, the book I’m reading has certain ”big” words that are used throughout which I’m beginning to include in my own vocabulary. Thanks for the great article and shared thoughts on this matter.

  • tiffany December 12, 2010, 4:47 am

    At the end of this piece you wrote “There’s really no excuse to start reading on a regular basis.”…

    I don’t think that is what you meant.

    No biggie; thanks for the article.


  • keith December 5, 2010, 12:01 am

    it’s nice and wonderful.hehehehe :)

  • Rohit November 30, 2010, 3:16 am

    Nice post.

    I came across this article while searching for the benefits of reading fiction. I would appreciate if you could let us know the benefits of reading fiction as opposed to non-fiction and why to buy a fiction at all.

  • Scott November 17, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Wonderful article you have here. I was simply inundated with glee when I saw your opinion on reading helping memory–it is a crucial part of the intellect. After dwelling in the degradation of my mind for so long (by means of a perpetual use of disreputable chemicals), I’ve decided to return to reading to broaden my perspective, absorb new information, and retrain my brain. I found this article on google, out of a curiosity as to whether or not reading improved memory, and it caught my eye.

    Your article gave me a newfound motivation to explore the literary world. Thank you.

    As Mr. Macky on South Park would say:
    Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?

    Books, are good–and don’t they just smell AMAZING! =D

  • Jack October 6, 2010, 5:40 pm

    Who is the author of this article I am using it for a project and I need to MLA Cite it :(

  • jinnster February 1, 2010, 4:39 pm

    thanks for helping me write my assignment :)

  • LeAnn January 29, 2010, 7:23 pm

    You are 100% on the mark!

  • salaad October 2, 2009, 2:04 am

    whay you read the books it means why do you need to read?

  • salaad October 1, 2009, 10:04 pm

    whay you read the books it means why do you need to read?

  • DMMiles June 14, 2009, 1:36 pm

    Although I never went to college and barely finished High School, both of my kids are excellant students with large vocabularys & high IQ's. My oldest just graduated from college Summa Cum Laude.I think that the reason is; even as babies I read to them and it made them desire books. Also I always have bought them books about whatever interests them so they not only read fiction they read books to learn more about things. I buy them new books, used books and took them to the library when they were younger. The most important book that I read to them and they like to read is the Bible.

    • thestuff of legends May 8, 2017, 9:29 am


  • Cassandra Jade June 14, 2009, 4:46 am

    It is amazing the number of people who don't read regularly. I find this a shame because reading anything, as you pointed out, is quite relaxing and calming. Yet it stimulates the brain and allows for far greater memory retention. Fantastic post and I very much agree with it.

  • SeanLance June 11, 2009, 6:23 pm


    I'm printing out this to memorize. These are all of the reasons that I can't remember when I need to in the moment.

    I've been going to the library more this year, mostly because I already have too many books at home!

  • silverwalk June 10, 2009, 11:30 pm

    As a teenager, my aunt did not include me in a local pro football outing w/the other cousins. When I found out and told her (at the time) I did enjoy football, she exclaimed “But, Bobbie, all I ever remember about you is you are always reading! I had no idea!” Pretty much sums up my life, though have been sidetracked learning HTML in the past year or so. I cannot imagine life w/o books – and in vast variety!

  • Faran June 8, 2009, 11:11 am

    I wonder if there is reverse causal relationship to some of the items on this list.
    Perhaps people with higher intelligence, better memory and less stress tend to read more?

    • Kvothe April 11, 2010, 9:37 pm

      Though this is very likely to be true, several studies have shown that even children who are not voracious readers improve in their reading, writing, study habits, emotional maturity, vocabulary, and mental activity after developing the habit of reading for recreational purposes

  • Ibrahim | ZenCollegeLife.com June 2, 2009, 1:50 pm

    Genius ideas here. I have recently become addicted to books, and it's an addiction that I hope I never find a cure for.

  • allproactive June 2, 2009, 3:44 am

    There's nothing like the feeling of holding a book in your hands (with the exception of a woman, but we're talking about books here ; )

    I was surprised to learn that you experience the same thing I do in regards to #8. I find that when I have a problem arranging something I'm working on musically, I open up when I'm reading and the pieces seem to fit themselves together. This can happen with any problem and I'm sure the readers can all relate to this.

    Thanks Glen!

  • sir jorge June 1, 2009, 1:06 pm

    another great post about reading, great stuff here