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Powerful Benefits of Reading for Pleasure

Updated: Jan 11

Imagine that you are given the luxurious gift of 20 extra minutes in your day. How are you going to spend that time?

You could scroll mindlessly through social media. But at the end of the 20 minutes, will that action have had a positive impact on your life? Not likely.

An ideal option that can significantly brighten your day is to grab a book and read a few chapters.

Our lives are accelerating with an overwhelming focus on technology. Information overload and overstimulation is becoming more common as our days are filled with activities and distractions.

In the midst of our bustling lives, there exists a world where the ordinary transforms into the extraordinary, and the mundane gives way to the magical—the world of reading for pleasure.

Our ancestors realized many of the powerful benefits of reading for pleasure and this knowledge has been passed down. Avid readers across the world are tapping into these benefits every day. Reading is more than just escaping reality, this cherished pastime delivers several beneficial perks. As we get lost in unknown worlds and our imagination is firing, we are reducing stress, boosting our general knowledge, and forming bonds with others.

Hands holding an open book
Reading for Pleasure

Benefits of Reading for Pleasure

Reading has the ability to change our lives through personal transformation as we go through periods of discovery and growth. Our minds are opened to endless possibilities as our horizon is expanded. Our knowledge bank is filled with new vocabulary and worlds that we never knew existed.

By diving into different genres, we can learn about history, other cultures, and gain experiences while at the same time becoming more empathetic with others in the process as our understanding grows. Experiencing several different emotions throughout a book also helps readers relate more to others and continuously develop compassion, building emotional intelligence.

Additionally, there are vast intellectual benefits that we can't overlook: reading stimulates our minds, sharpens our critical thinking, and fuels our creativity.

Let's explore some of these benefits further.

Escape into Fictional Worlds

Opening a book can whisk readers away to distant lands and extraordinary adventures. Books are the vessel that can take us to places that we may never visit (and may not even exist!) as well as times that have past or are far off in the future. Fictional worlds and characters help to spark our imagination as we join in on the adventure.

The ability to spark our imagination is part of the allure of reading. During those quiet moments as we turn the pages, we are able to cast aside the burdens of our life and relax in a moment of escape. Reading for pleasure becomes a sanctuary of calm, providing much needed respite from the chaos of everyday life.

Intellectual Stimulation and Cognitive Benefits

One of the most obvious benefits of reading is the expansion of knowledge. Exposure to a symphony of words broadens your vocabulary regardless of the genre - this occurs with both fiction and non-fiction works. We innately seek contextual clues as we read, picking up on new words often without even realizing that we are doing it.

In addition to an increased vocabulary, books are a great source of education. We can learn about history, or dive into books seeking to understand something specific. Children naturally gravitate to books that hold their interest in an effort to learn more about their favorite things such as princesses, dinosaurs, space exploration. During the teen years, much of our reading is for context (textbooks and now websites) along with some literature to encourage reading interests and habits. As an adult, the options are endless with books on every subject from self help, entrepreneurship, business, special interests, and works of fiction.

Additionally, reading for pleasure does more than just entertain; it acts as a cognitive workout for our brains. Studies have revealed that immersing ourselves in books can significantly improve cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. As we actively engage with the plot, our minds are put to the test, analyzing, predicting, and making connections, all of which contribute to a sharper intellect.

The next time you find yourself lost in the twists and turns of a thrilling novel or the depths of a complex narrative, rest assured that you're not only indulging in a delightful pastime but also giving your brain a well-deserved exercise, strengthening its cognitive prowess one page at a time.

Develop Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

As we dive into books, we are exposed to different cultures and social classes, experiencing their journey as if through their eyes. This exposure to alternate viewpoints encourages empathy and a deeper understanding as it expands our own personal database of experiences to reference.

Within fiction, we are joined to characters as they experience highs and lows. This bond that is developed allows us to empathize with the emotions of the characters playing out on the pages in black and white. This emotional involvement further boosts our own emotional intelligence as we become more in tune with our feelings as well as others.

In addition to being more situationally aware of emotions, reading exposes us to situations that we may not have lived through, often causing us to deliberate ethical, moral, and societal issues. This new exposure allows us to become open-minded and continuously re-evaluate our stance on topics with a growth mindset.

By observing the various emotional journeys that the characters in a book experience such as relationship development and conflict resolution, we are constantly witnessing nuances of human interaction. This becomes part of our own set of interpersonal skills, helping us understand others and form deeper connections.

Stress Reduction and Improves Mental Well-Being

We have boundless responsibilities and commitments to tend to every day and it's easy to overlook self care. Yet, amid the chaos, reading emerges as a beacon of tranquility and respite. It's a well deserved opportunity to take some time out of our busy lives to destress as we put some separation between the hectic nature of the daily grind and immerse ourselves in a few chapters of a good book.

As we find ourselves pulled into page turning narratives, we are free to leave the stress of the world behind, if only for a few moments at a time. This can have a calming effect, that can often be felt mentally and physically, Reading is an opportunity to rejuvenate our mind while lifting our spirits and slowing us down to appreciate the wonders around us.

It's often hard to "find time" to do it, but the calming nature of it improves mental health, making it well worth scheduling it into your calendar.

Social Benefits and Building Communities

While the act of reading is typically a solitary action, books can bring people together in more ways than one. Book clubs, reading groups, online communities can foster wonderful conversations between like minded people. Additionally, the pleasure of connecting with others while reading a book ("buddy read") to hash out thoughts and feelings evoked, mimics what many of us experienced as teenagers in school when the teacher instructed us to read very specific chapters (and not read ahead) to discuss during class. It was always a struggle for me to stop where I was supposed to as I always wanted to know what would happen next, but I've always thoroughly enjoyed having that dialogue with others and sharing the exciting moments of a book as I'm reading it.

You'll find tons of genre specific recommendations to check out within these pages. If you are looking for great conversation starting books ideal for group discussion, take a look at this recommendation of 3 Thought Provoking Books for Discussion Groups or Book Clubs. These three books have plots filled with interesting concepts that are sure to prompt lots of dialogue among readers.

Developing Your Reading Habit

Not sure how to start your reading habit?

Don't overthink it! Start by setting aside 15-30 minutes a day to dedicate to reading. Find a comfortable space that allows you to relax with your book. Seek recommendations from friends, peers, or family members that have a similar taste as you and try out different genres. Consider joining a local book club or online reading community to get added motivation.

Remember, it's ok to close a book if you don't like it (DNF - Did Not Finish) - forcing yourself to read something that isn't interesting to you isn't going to encourage you to keep going. But keep in mind, that books often hit us differently depending on current circumstances, so sometimes it's worth trying again.

Read at your own pace - it's not a race - and enjoy the ability to immerse yourself in a book.

When possible, take your book / Kindle / iPad with you wherever you go. You'll be amazed at how many opportunities to read will present themselves. For example, there have been countless times that I've been at my children's sports games and had to go to the car for a 30 minute lightning delay - it's the perfect opportunity to read another chapter (or two!).

Book Recommendations

So now you are all ready to read, but unsure what to pick up first? Here are several recommendations based on your potential interests. Switch things up and try new genres or stick with what is most comfortable to you!

If you are looking for a gift giving guide on what a book lover would want that isn't a book, check out this article: Gift Ideas for the Book Lover in Your Life.

Reading for Pleasure - Summary

As you can see, there are several benefits of reading for pleasure to entice you into picking up that next book. As an escape into different worlds, we can put aside the stress of our daily lives. Reading is an opportunity to feed our minds and souls in one of the greatest forms of self-care. Every time we read for pleasure, we are nourishing our minds in multiple ways including intellectual stimulation as well as cultivating deeper emotional understanding and intelligence.

Happy Reading!

Looking for the perfect way to keep track of your reading?

Designed for avid book lovers, this thoughtfully crafted Reading Journal invites you to rate, review, and immortalize key thoughts and memorable quotes for up to 100 books as you devour them. Stay organized and manage your lists all in one convenient journal. Discover the perfect companion in its convenient compact size of 6"x9", ensuring portability without compromising on ample writing space. Immerse yourself in the joy of reading as you navigate the pages of this indispensable literary companion.

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and /or YouTube for video book reviews!

Note: At no additional cost to you, you will find affiliate links in this blog to loved products. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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6 comentários

Membro desconhecido
29 de set. de 2023

Good points! I have always loved to read. Sometimes 2-3 books a week.

Sheila Hirschauer
Sheila Hirschauer
09 de out. de 2023
Respondendo a

It's a wonderful habit with so many benefits! Kudos to you for reading so much!!! I love it!


Membro desconhecido
29 de set. de 2023

Such great points! I totally agree with all of these points! One of my favorite things about reading is how it builds empathy and greater cultural awareness. Thank you for sharing!

Sheila Hirschauer
Sheila Hirschauer
09 de out. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thank you and you are welcome! Yes, I feel like I've learned so much more from reading. Just understanding groups / people that I'm unfamiliar with and being able to put myself in their feet a bit more is a huge win.


Membro desconhecido
29 de set. de 2023

I love this post! I got really into reading during the pandemic and it stuck. Last year I read about 150 books in 12 months. I also love audiobooks because I can do it when doing mindless activities and get through books quicker.

Sheila Hirschauer
Sheila Hirschauer
09 de out. de 2023
Respondendo a

Tracy, you are so right! The audio books have been a huge win for me. I do both - print copy and audio - every chance I can that way I can continue listening during errands and progress through the story. Then I pick back up with reading at night when things have settled. I love mixing it up like that!

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