10 Reasons Reading Fiction is Good for your Mental Health

By October 10, 2016News, Reading Habits

We hear a lot about how exercise is good for our mental health, but when concentrating on the topic of reading and mental health we tend to think of self-help books and books that teach us coping mechanisms. However, science has shown that it doesn’t matter what you read, and that in fact, reading fiction may be a great way to improve your mental health from day to day.

We’re definitely not suggesting treating clinical depression with The Hunger Games. If there is anyone out there who is feeling terribly depressed, anxious or even suicidal then please make an appointment with your doctor, or start by talking to a friend. But if you are just looking for ways to improve your general wellbeing, then ending each day with a chapter or two is a great place to start.

Readers stay sharp, and it’s not just about learning stuff through non-fiction, reading fiction is one of the best brain exercises you can do and here’s why:

Reading Helps You De-Stress

Reading fiction allows you to step out of your own world and explore someone else’s. It’s relaxing, and it’s the perfect escape. When you’re feeling particularly stressed, getting lost in a book is a great antidote.

Reading Helps You Sleep

Experts suggest that having a strong night time routine is a great cure for insomnia and including reading in that routine could be especially good for you. The meditative qualities of reading are relaxing and including a couple of chapters in your bedtime routine could be just what you need.


Reading Improves Focus

We live in a world of 200 word status updates and 60 second videos, and in that busy world flashing by in seconds it can be hard to retain focus. By reading and becoming engrossed we relearn that focus and our minds become calmer by default.


Reading Keeps Your Brain Agile

In a recent study it was shown that fostering the habit of reading as a child and reading until old age, greatly slows down memory decline. Those who read had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline, while those who don’t engage in any mental activity decline at a massive 48 percent faster.

Even When it Comes to Alzheimer’s and Dementia

And it’s not just general brain training either, reading can even ward off serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s. A study has shown that avid readers, that is those who becoming engrossed in a book for at least an hour a day (newspapers and magazines don’t have the same effect), forces our brains to forge new pathways, and keeps our memory fine tuned.

Reading Helps to Build Empathy

A lack of empathy and understanding of how other people feel beneath the surface can make us feel disconnected and lonely, but reading and fiction in particular allows us to “Get into someone’s skin and walk around a while” (to paraphrase one of my favourite literary quotes). This in turn can enhance our personal relationships and improve our all round wellbeing.

Reading is Safe

Depression and anxiety can throw up some terrible out of control feelings, but reading allows us to experience a range of different emotions, such as grief, loss, and even happiness, at a detached level. While the book sucks us in and we feel all the joy and pain, we’re actually lying safely in our beds.


Reading Combats Loneliness

While there is no real substitute for human company, modern life is isolating. They say you’re never alone with a book, and reading, whether that be fiction or non-fiction, magazines or newspapers, fills the time, allows us to communicate with the characters or subject, and allows us to learn to be comfortable with being alone.


Reading is a Conversation Starter

And it’s not just about learning to be alone, reading fiction gives us something to talk about with other people. Book people love talking about books and it can be a great way to start a conversation with an actual real person too!

As we get older it becomes harder to build new relationships, but seeing a person reading something you love is like seeing a book recommend a person. Say hi, who knows where it might end!

It Gives us the Words to Understand our Feelings

Never underestimate the power of language. There’s not much worse than feeling absolutely terrible and being unable to articulate how we feel to others. Reading improves language and the power of the spoken word will be the key to getting help!

In fact, studies have shown that our stress levels decrease by about 68% when we’re engrossed in a good book! Even if you think you don’t have time to read, a chapter or two on the train or before bed can make all the difference to your general well-being, as well as being a fun and engaging hobby.

Study Shows Growing up in a Home Full of Books Is Good for Children

By | Literature, News, Reading Habits | No Comments
Those of you who buy more books than you can read will be pleased to learn that a recent study suggests that this is having a positive effect on you and any little ones that may be around. Evidence suggests that those who grow up in homes full of books are more likely to have higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills. Read More

Bill Clinton’s First Novel Has Sold over 1 Million Copies

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Despite only being released a few months ago on June 4, Bill Clinton’s first novel has managed to sell over 1 million copies in North America alone. Co-written with James Patterson, The President is Missing is a thriller which sees the President go undercover after a devastating cyber attack. The novel is Clinton’s first work of fiction and was no doubt helped by having such a prolific co-author on board.
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For the Eleventh Year, James Patterson Remains the UK’s Most Borrowed Book from Libraries

By | Libraries, Reading Habits | No Comments
Data gathered by the Public Lending Right (PLR) has found that James Patterson’s thriller books, along with thriller books in general, are the most borrowed books from UK libraries. For the eleventh year in a row, James Patterson has been crowned the most borrowed author from public libraries. In fact, his books have been borrowed over 22 million times since 2007.

As The Guardian reports, Patterson has stated he’s thrilled to be holding on to his crown, while also giving his support for libraries. “I firmly believe that better readers become better thinkers and I think libraries are an integral part of any community, as they are essential in helping to share and spread the joy of reading,” he said. His 2016 novel, Bullseye, was the ninth most borrowed book from UK libraries last year. Read More

Ikea Will Soon Be Offering Customers Reading Rooms, Where You Can Even Take a Book Home for Free

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As though it weren’t easy enough to lose track of time wandering around Ikea, the furniture giant has now announced that it will soon be hosting Reading Rooms, a place where members of the public will be able to go to sit back, relax, enjoy a good book, and even take it home free of charge.

As Metro reports, Ikea has partnered up with the Man Booker Prize to offer visitors a place where they can get comfy and enjoy one of many great books on offer. If you find yourself becoming engrossed in your book, then you can take it home with you for free! You might be wondering how that differs from your local library, but does your local library provide you with delicious Swedish meatballs? Didn’t think so. Read More

Obama Reveals What He’s Been Reading Prior to Visiting Africa

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For the first time since he left office, the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, has returned to Africa where he spent time in both Kenya (his ancestral home) and South Africa. There he met 200 young leaders from all over the continent and made a speech to commemorate the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela.

Prior to his visit, Obama published a post on his official Facebook page where he wrote about his love for his ancestral home, and revealed what books he’s been reading in the build up to his trip. As you would expect, the books are from and about the continent of Africa and show what a diverse, historic, sometimes troubled, but also extraordinary continent it is. Not only has Obama recommended the books, but also provided a quick insight as to why he found them interesting. Read More

Barack Obama Shares What Books He’s Been Reading

By | Discussion and Recommendations, Political, Reading Habits | No Comments
It’s always interesting to learn what other people are reading, even more so when they happen to have been one of the most powerful people on the planet. If you’ve been wondering what former US President Barack Obama has been reading since he left office then you’re in luck. As Harper’s Bazaar reports, Obama recently took to his official Facebook page to share what he’s been reading.

“I’m often asked what I’m reading, watching, and listening to, so I thought I might share a short list from time to time,” he wrote. There’s so much good writing and art and variety of thought out there these days that this is by no means comprehensive – like many of you, I’ll miss The Americans – but here’s what I’ve been reading lately. It’s admittedly a slightly heavier list than what I’ll be reading over the summer.” Read More

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