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.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • 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.

  • accident lawyer April 25, 2017, 9:45 am

    I think you have really done a good job and takn tthe time to research this and I appreciate it.

    • thestuff of legends May 8, 2017, 9:28 am

      more like takin the time on my ride-i-i-i-i-i-i o-o-o-o-o im balling so im taking my time on my ride

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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

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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.
          :P

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

            Cool story bro.

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

    Hello,
    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

      wow

  • 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

    Fantastic!!

    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