Discover the most important advantages and benefits of reading books — some may surprise you and some may even change your life!

bookshelves and reading chair

In a world where everyone is busy, it can be hard to find the time to cultivate a reading habit in addition to spending time on work, marriage, kids, homes, and on and on.  You can be so focused on getting through the day that you can overlook how a reading habit can actually have transformative powers that are really worth your time.

That’s why I’m here to tell you exactly why reading is so important. I have studied English literature. I read 100+ books per year, and I run this website dedicated to books and reading full-time. So, I’ve experienced the benefits of books firsthand, all the back to my toddler years, when they began to mold and shape me.

Let’s explore all the best book-reading benefits!

What Are the Benefits of Reading A Lot of Books?

The advantages of reading books include:

  1. Teaches you new things
  2. Teaches you life lessons
  3. Helps you solve problems
  4. Increases your vocabulary
  5. Improves your writing skills
  6. Improves your critical thinking
  7. Improves your memory
  8. Improves your imagination
  9. Improves your focus and concentration
  10. Improves your communication skills
  11. Expands your worldview
  12. Increases your empathy
  13. Can motivate you and/or instill confidence
  14. Makes you more open-minded
  15. Provides cheap or free entertainment
  16. Offers community
  17. Improves relationships
  18. Provides friendship
  19. Reduces stress and anxiety
  20. Reduces depression
  21. Reduces screen time
  22. Provides quiet time for self-care
  23. Helps you sleep better
  24. Helps your brain age more slowly
  25. Improves your chances of living longer

Details About the Benefits of Reading Books

list of the life changing benefits of reading books

Below are more details and personal insights about the importance of reading books.

Teaches you new things

Of course, one of the most obvious benefits of books is learning new things. No matter what you want to learn, you are bound to find it in a book (or many books).

A few things I’ve learned by reading books are how to adopt a vegan lifestyle, how to invest money, and how to blog. All three completely changed my health, my finances, and my career.


Teaches you life lessons

Books that instill life lessons can help us from our toddler years all the way into the eldest ones. When I think of books with life lessons, I can’t help but think of The Berenstain Bears books, with titles like The Berenstain Bears Take Turns and The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings.

As an adult, I’ve learned from reading such life lessons as how to cope with death and grief.


Helps you solve problems

If you’ve got a problem, books will solve it! (Did anyone catch the Vanilla Ice reference, there?!) But, seriously, anytime I’ve struggled with anything, I have gotten answers (and results) from books.

What comes to mind is the time I spent post-graduation using library books to perfect my cover letter and resume to secure my first job.

I can also recall relying on books to solve my money management problems and set up a monthly budget that I still use to this day, several years later.


Increases your vocabulary

When you read new words, you learn new words. You’ll enjoy all the benefits of reading when you impress others by casually using words like obfuscate, quixotic, and perfidious in a sentence.


Improves your writing skills

Reading lots of words also helps you write better. I definitely noticed this over the past few years especially, when I’ve been both reading and writing a lot more. Reading almost feels like practice for writing!


Improves your critical thinking

As I was once a lawyer, I definitely understand that reading improves your critical thinking. In fact, it’s exactly how lawyers are trained to think critically. It’s how we would develop robust arguments and poke holes in lesser ones. It’s something that improves more and more over time as you force yourself to think about what you are reading.


Improves your memory

It’s been scientifically proven that reading can improve memory, particularly in older adults. It seems like the more information we put into our brains, the more they expand to hold all of it.

You may not even realize how much reading can stick with you. I consume A LOT of information, but it’s not until someone asks me about a random topic and I’m able to recall a fact with ease that I realize how much reading has improved my memory.


Improves your imagination

Reading has been a source of improved imagination for me since I was a child watching Reading Rainbow and reading the books mentioned in it. Oftentimes, I would find myself then creating art about these books, particularly if they entailed magical, fantasy worlds.

Anyone who became engrossed by the Harry Potter books, for example, would likely agree! These types of books FORCE you to use your imagination to create a world in your mind that’s wholly unlike the real world.

Using your imagination this way also boosts your creativity!


Improves your focus and concentration

In a world filled with endless distractions, concentration can be challenging. Reading books forces you to focus only on the words on the paper. It’s not always easy, but practice makes you better and better over time.

I look at reading kind of the way I look at mindfulness and meditation when it comes to focus and concentration. All three require you to be fully present “in the moment” and actively engage your attention.


Improves your communication skills

I’ve experienced first-hand reading improving my communication skills (one of the known benefits of reading). I have ALWAYS struggled with oral communication, particularly since so much of my work for so many years involved other forms of communication. I tend to process words more slowly when I speak them.

When I started reading a lot more books in my free time, however, I noticed a real difference in how much more quickly and coherently I was able to articulate myself verbally.


Expands your worldview

Many, if not most, of us live pretty limited lives. One way to learn how others around the world live (and why) is by reading books.

Through my U.S.A. reading challenge, I’ve read books set in nearly all of the United States, and I’m working my way through my world reading challenge as well. Naturally, I’ve learned all about different parts of the world and the people who live there this way.

One book that immediately comes to mind is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, which described the life of a woman seeking an education under the Taliban’s rule.


Increases your empathy

One of the most-talked-about benefits of reading is how much it increases your empathy. Beyond learning about people and places, you can also get right inside someone’s mind and walk a mile in their shoes by reading books.

In turn, this helps you look past your initial judgments and understand another’s underlying motivations.

I tend to always walk away from books about the Asian-American experience with a newfound sense of understanding. Recently, the book Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, about a modern man struggling with addiction in Appalachia, also really gave me (and so many thousands of others) profound feelings of understanding about people, places, and things that are often judged from the outside.


Can motivate you and/or instill confidence

There are many situations in life that can make you feel isolated, alone, or unworthy. Reading the story of a similar person, or even tips from a self-help book, can help you blast those mental roadblocks that are holding you back.


Makes you more open-minded

I have also noticed that reading books has made me (and others around me) more open-minded in general. When you regularly read and learn from other people’s perspectives, you can find more and more value in hearing what others have to say.


Provides cheap or free entertainment

Of all the hobbies in the world, reading books is one of the best because you can read books for free or you can read books for cheap prices, comparatively speaking.

I barely spend any money on books themselves! I utilize the library, used book sales, subscription services, etc. I’d be shocked to hear if this number totaled over a couple of hundred dollars per year, and I read well over 100+ books annually.


Offers community

Yes, reading books can also offer you the benefits of communities. I’ve made countless bookish friends on Bookstagram, some of whom have become real-life friends. Book clubs can also encourage gatherings when our lives seem so busy.

Not everyone in your personal circle likes to talk about books, or even a particular book or book series, but I have no doubt that someone, somewhere does. This can give you a sense of belonging.


Improves relationships

You can both build new relationships and strengthen current ones by reading books. For example, my parents spent a lot of time reading to me when I was younger, which strengthened family bonds and now, reading books gives me something meaningful to discuss with my husband on a daily basis.


Provides friendship

Readers often say that books are their friends. Since so many books give us a window into someone else’s mind and life, they can feel like real friends, especially when we need them most.

Thinking of books as friends takes me back to my pre-teen years, reading books about adolescence like Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. It was a time when everything felt new and scary, yet was so hard to talk about outside the world of books.


Reduces stress and anxiety

It’s been proven that reading reduces both stress and anxiety. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from that! Reading doesn’t just feel like an escape from your thoughts and feelings — it is an escape from your thoughts and feelings.

It also forces you to slow down and sit in a constantly-moving world.


Reduces depression

Likewise, reading can reduce depression. As mentioned, books can be an escape from dire current circumstances, and they can also make you feel less alone, particularly if you are struggling with something that may make you feel depressed (like financial problems, a job loss, or a toxic environment).

Reading a similar story of someone else just make be what makes you feel better about your own life.


Reduces screen time

Look, we all know by now that screen time is harmful — it disrupts our sleep, changes our moods, and so forth. Reading books is one way to avoid the many harms of screen time.

In fact, I avoid ebooks as much as possible, particularly on screens that have a glare (like my cell phone).


Provides quiet time for self-care

There are so few activities that provide us with moments of peace and quiet that we need for self-care. Reading is one of them.

So, don’t feel any guilt taking a book into a warm bubble bath and indulging. It’s GOOD for you!


Helps you sleep better

One of the most valuable benefits of reading is that it helps you sleep better. For example, one scientific study found that “sleep disturbance is likely to be lower, on average, by between 2 and 4 units when reading a book in bed before sleeping.”

Both my husband and I read before bed in order to sleep better, and it works well for both of us. In fact, I notice a visible difference in my sleeping when I don’t read before bed (especially if it involves screen time).


Helps your brain age more slowly

There are scientific studies that show that reading books helps you keep your brain more agile as you age and thinking skills naturally become more difficult. It’s kind of like exercise for your brain!

I can recall that when my grandmother’s mind was getting worse, we would give her the newspaper and brain puzzle books to keep her sharp.


Improves your chances of living longer

I know it’s a big statement to say that one of the best benefits of reading is living longer. But, the scientific proof is there. Still, though, it feels more accurate to me to say that reading books improves your chances of living longer.

Regardless, Yale researchers found “readers who read over 3.5 hours a week lived a full 23 months longer than the people who didn’t read at all. That extended lifespan applied to all reading participants, regardless of ‘gender, wealth, education or health’ factors, the study explain[ed].”

So, there you have it. Read books and you just may live a longer life.


Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of reading simply cannot be overstated. From expanding our vocabulary and knowledge to improving our critical thinking and empathy, reading offers a powerful tool for personal growth and well-being.

So, as you continue to navigate the many complexities of modern life, keep top of mind the profound impact of immersing yourselves in the pages of a book.

Make a commitment to yourself that you and your family are worth these life-changing benefits of reading books daily. It can be just as mean as a good night of sleep or a healthy diet.  Every journey starts with one step  — or, one page in this case! It just may change your life.

Related Posts

Need more help with your reading life? Check out these posts to help you read better now that you know the importance of reading books:

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2 Comments

  1. My favorite part about this article was when you mentioned that getting lost in a story can help you forget your own problem and wind down, and I think this is really important for any adult. I would recommend anyone that is having a hard time spending a couple of hours a week reading interesting books, so you can find a way to relax. Recently I have decided that I would like to read mystery novels, so I will need to start looking for those soon.