Emotional & intellectual benefits of reading

by Dandy

I have been a life long lover of books.  I’m a chain reading bookworm who knows every square inch of my public library.  When I was a teenager my parents always knew where to find me – in the library’s basement on the green sofa curled up with a book.  I never, ever got into trouble as a kid, because I didn’t have the time to get in trouble with my voracious reading schedule.  I guess you could say books were my recreational drug.    It was my love of reading various types of literature that compelled me to pursue a degree in English.  All I wanted to do with my life was read and study. 

There are so many articles everywhere about our physical health.  We all know that yoga is good for the body and soul.  We all know to eat our veggies and fruit, because it makes us feel better.  We all know that exercise is the key to a long life of good health.  We all know the vitamins we need.  But what about reading?  What are the health benefits to reading?  Read on and find out.

Stress Relief – Reading is therapeutic.  It stops us from ruminating about our own worries.  Many different studies have shown it to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

Rejuvenating – Being alone with a book recharges us emotionally. 

Entertaining – Reading will make you laugh, cry, blush.  It will challenge your core beliefs.

Right Brain Stimulation – Reading opens us to new possibilities.  It makes us ask, “what would I do in this situation?’  It stimulates us mentally and increases concentration and focus. 

Relaxation – We all need this.   The beauty and rhythm of language can calm and relax. 

Widens Vocabulary – Reading causes us to be alert and curious to new words.

Intellectual Curiosity – As our vocabulary increases so does the desire to read more challenging material.

Expands Reality– Reading takes us out of our geography and time line.  It expands reason and opens us to more diversity, customs, ethnicity, and lifestyle.

Builds Self Esteem – Reading makes us more knowledgeable about a certain topic hence increases our confidence.  People will look to us for answers. 

Memory Improvement – Reading requires remembering details, facts, figures, plot lines, characters, themes, and structures.  It stretches our brain.

Improves Creativity – Reading will give us exposure to new ideas and information.  It inspires and encourages innovation. 

Sometimes a single book can change our entire lives.  We are made better people because of reading.  It can take us on an unexpected course.  It shapes our personalities and beliefs.  You don’t need to read War and Peace or The Canterbury Tales to experience the health benefits of reading.  If you are not much of a reader, start with a short book.  Or read poetry if you have trouble focusing on anything too long.  Read something today that you have never thought about reading.  Challenge yourself, you will be healthier because of it.

What books have you read that had a profound effect on you?  What topics have you been wanting to read, but haven’t gotten around to it?  What is your favorite genre?

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31 Comments to “Emotional & intellectual benefits of reading”

  1. Hi Dandy,

    It’s nice to see you discussing the emotional and intellectual benefits of reading. Like you, I love to read. The only difference is that I would rather own my own library than go to the library. So I have become a lifelong collector of books. This way, anytime I need a book on something I can always reach out to get it.

    I love all the points that you have made about the benefits of reading. From my experience they are all true.

    I especially love your point about how reading expands reality. This is one of the reasons I read. History is my favourite genre and I love it to bits. I love reading about empires and I have read about the Byzantines, the Ottomans, the Mongols, the Mughals, the Persians, the Islamic Caliphates, China and Japan. Reading the rise and fall of these empires have indeed broaden my reality across space and time.

    I also enjoy science-fiction, astrology, divination, eastern philosophy and self-help books.

    The book that has had the most profound impact on my life is the I-Ching or the Book of Changes. It is a lovely book of wisdom which offers solutions on dealing with problems in life. I love the Taoist and Confucian influence that the book has. It is a book that I refer to daily.

    Thanks for sharing this great post!

    • Hi there, I think it’s wonderful you read as much as you do. It sounds like it has really shaped you to be who you were meant to be. I know what you mean about owning your own library. For awhile I had a little problem with Amazon.com. It got to be too addicting:) I concider my books to be my friends!! I will have to read the I-Ching. I’ve heard many great things about it & it’s time I got to it. Thanks so much for your comment!!

      • Hi Dandy,

        Getting started with the I Ching can be daunting as there are many books out there of varying quality that could confuse you. Luckily, you don’t have to take the plunge yourself, I did that years ago and here are some helpful suggestions.

        These are some helpful links.

        I Ching with Clarity

        There is a forum and many helpful articles on how to read and use the I Ching. A perfect introduction to the Book of Changes.

        Yijing Dao

        This is another website I love. It will deepen your knowledge about the I Ching. But best of all, it has reviews of many I Ching books out there so that you know which translations suit you. The owner of the website has spent decades learning about the I Ching so he knows his stuff.

        Depending on your inclination, the translations vary from the mysticism kind filled with imagery and the likes to the more pragmatic kind which states clearly how you have to deal with a situation. I am more inclined towards the pragmatic kind with Taoist and Confucian musings.

        Some good books I would recommend starting out with are:

        The I Ching or Book of Changes by Richard Wilhelm

        This is an all time classic and the first Yijing book I bought. It has a fine blend of practicality and imagery. A part of the book is reproduced at this website so you can see if the way it is written is to your liking. It may seem to be gibberish at first, but like poetry, you might need to read it a few times and associate it with your experiences before it starts to make sense.

        The Laws of Change by Jack M Balkin

        This is a book that I have relied on for many years. The author is pragmatic in his interpretation so it is very easy to read and understand. He based his interpretation on the Wilhelm book above so this is a great complement to it.

        You can find more reviews of the various I Ching books at Yijing Dao to suit your tastes.

        If you have any questions, feel free to email me. I would be more than happy to help you along with the I Ching. 🙂

      • Wow! Thank you so much for your help & taking the time to let me know this. This is wonderful. I’ll definately let you know if I have any questions. Thank-you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. It’s a good thing I’m a big reader considering all the benefits. I read tons of books every year. Like you, my passion for reading compelled me to get a degree in English. Although I don’t have enough time to do it now since I’m in grad school, I’ll start it up again once I’m done.

    The last book I got to read was “Flowers for Algernon”. I’d always wanted to read it and finally got to. It was so good. Normally I read more non-fiction than fiction, but fiction is so satisfying when you find a really good story.

    • Hi Steve,
      I’m so glad you are one of the folks who have found reading benefical. I’ve read “Flowers for Algernon” and loved it. Thanks for reading my blog and commenting! Hopefully I’ll hear from you again! Take care.

  3. “Rejuvenating – Being alone with a book recharges us emotionally.” Kudos to you and your desire to open up your mind a bit wider to the books of our past forgotten fathers and generations. It rare to see a person who can break down the functionality of reading a book. I love that reading brings up more knowledge than any television programming on this planet. Except Charlie rose cause his stuff is pretty good. Great post Dandy.

  4. After reading “The Catcher in the Rye,” was when I decided I wanted to write. I was a junior in high school (age 16) and the impact the book had on me was tremendous.

    Alex

  5. > Widens Vocabulary
    That is a true beauty of reading. I just can’t imagine how I would have learned the various connotations of words without stumbling across them in various books.

  6. It is amazing what one can learn from reading. Sometimes I like to read books that I can learn from. Other times I like to read about real life and then there are the times I just want to get away with a good fiction story. You are right when you say, “One book can change a life.” Thanks for the lovely way you have written this article. It makes me want to find a book and find a nice corner to read in.
    Debbie

    • Hi Debbie,
      I’m so glad you found inspiration in my post. I was hoping it would have that effect on my readers. There’s nothing like loosing yourself in a great book! Thanks for your comment, Debbie!!

  7. I always considered buying a child a book was investing in their future. Very good post, Dandy.

  8. Hi Dandy,

    Very nice post! For sure reading has many benefits. It helps us become more creative, entertains us. Reading is food for the mind, if we don’t read, we really don’t grow intellectually. I have many books that made a huge impact on me such as the science of getting rich by Wallace D. Wattles, the power of the subconscious mind by Joseph Murphy, and your erroneous zones by Wayne Deyer. Thanks for sharing

  9. Hi Dandy,

    I was the same way as a teenager. Always reading, it was my way of escaping to another place and learning new things. The benefits you shared are great!.

    There is a book, that I have read recently that really gave me the push I needed to be more dedicated to being a vegan and the book is “By Any Greens Necessary.”

    My goal is to read more personal development books. I have a few on my list that I plan to read very soon.

    Whatever we love the most or are passionate about that is what we will read about the most. I find myself reading about diet/vegan, health and healthy living more than I have ever done. 🙂

    Great post, Dandy! I didn’t know you were an English major. That’s a cool thing to learn about you!

    Take care,

    Evelyn

    • Hi Evelyn,
      Thanks for your comment! I always enjoy hearing from you! I’ve been wanting to read “By Any Greens Necessary”. I keep hearing good things about it. I’m so glad you can relate to how beneficial reading can be to our lives! Thanks again!!

  10. Reading rocks! Books have been such an important and satisfying part of my life from Little Women to the Bible and everything in between. I’ll read cereal boxes and bus schedules if nothing else is handy. *lol* I love your reasons for reading but I only have one for myself…I read because I am a reader. 🙂

  11. Hi Dandy,

    Yes! I love to read so much, and I have for as long as can I remember. You’ve done such a great job pointing out many benefits of reading. Certainly, it has helped me in countless ways and I am sure I would not even have my own blog today, if it were not for all of the reading I’ve done!

    Great job Dandy! That seems to be the case every time I visit your blog…a great post every time!

  12. Hi Dandy.
    Great list of benefits you’ve listed in this fine post.
    I was an only child for the first 10 years of life, so I turned to books as a way to entertain and educate myself. There was always something about books that drew me to them and fascinated me.

    Today we have practically everything in digital versions but there is something magical about holding a great book and adding it to the collection. Perhaps I’m a bit old school. 🙂

    Enjoyed the post and the visit!

    • Hi Jimi,
      I completely agree with you! Although I love my kindle, there’s nothing like a musty, old, creaky bound book. I love the smell of libraries. I’m really happy you have experienced the wonderful intellectual and emotional benefits of reading. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. I’m honored.

      Many blessings,
      Dandy

  13. hello dandy
    how are you?
    reading is a good exercise. it broadens your knowledge and to a reasonable extent keeps you informed.
    at the age of 11 i suddenly developed a keen interest in reading and hasnt looked back ever since although i would say i am your average reader.
    over the years it has built my confidence and definitely given me things to talk about.
    i am currently reading the phenomenon of man.
    thanks for sharing this article.
    take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the day.

  14. I love this.

    Reading is a huge part of my life. I am a writer, been writing for over 14 years. If it was not for reading I would never have this gigantic, colossal ambition that burns inside of me with such amazed tenacity and passion.

    Reading for me has given me my profound love for humanity, and has allowed me to become “Self-Aware” whereas most just let life pass them by drooling to the sounds of the tv drown.

    Thank you for sharing this post, I really enjoyed it 🙂

    • Hello Gregory,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog & giving me that lovely compliment. I too wouldn’t have had any interest in writing if it weren’t for my love of reading. There is nothing like getting lost inside a wonderful novel & there are so many fantastic new writers out there. Thanks again Gregory!!

      Take care, Dandy

  15. strongly agree
    knowledge is power

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