My grandmother, Johnnie Ketner, was one of the most well-read persons I have ever known. She loved reading just about any genre, but I remember her loving murder mysteries the best.
She would read Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Nero Wolfe just to name a few. She really enjoyed getting lost in the characters and attempting to discover the murderer before the famed detective would unveil who committed the crime and how they did it.
Her love for reading was infectious, and I guess that is why I enjoy reading also. She taught me early in life that if I didn’t know something, the best place to look for the answer was in a book. It was her encouragement that led me to begin writing stories and poems when I was in fourth grade.
I currently read a lot of nonfiction. In fact, I received the idea for writing this article by reading nonfiction. I don’t however, read much fiction, and I know I should.
This is why I have put together the following science-based reasons on why I will read more fiction this year and why you should too.
Reading makes you happier.
When we are reading, we being swept away from our current problems into a realm that doesn’t judge or ask anything of us. The author creates a universe separate from our own, where we are allowed to veer into the lives of others. Their challenges become our challenges and through the eyes of the hero, we are led to find solutions, take action and eventually become victorious. All without having to break a sweat.
Current research shows that people are happy when they use their money to purchase experiences such as dinner out with friends as well as materialistic items such as a lamp or new shirt. Books cross the line of both types of purchases. When you buy a book, you get the materialistic item, but you also get the experience the author provides. You are able to visit far away lands with little cost to you.
Reading relieves stress.
Research shows that the physiological effects of reading are similar to those of meditation. Studies have shown that within six minutes of quiet reading, muscle tension is reduced up to 6o% as your heart beat slows down. In fact, reading reduces stress 68% more than listening to music and 300% more than going for a walk.
Why? The reason is simple. Reading like meditation serves as a “pit stop” for our brains. Engaging in a good book allows us to disengage for a short period of time allowing our minds to rest and revive.
Reading before bed leads to better sleep.
This is where I am going to add my fiction reading time to my day. Even if you are like me and you feel too mentally drained to read right before bed, it can still be beneficial to read just ten minutes before turning out the lights.
Taking your problems to bed with you is a guaranteed way of producing fitful sleep. Reading fiction allows you to disengage from the real world and the stress of your day. It creates a relaxing effect on your mind and body which can help you to fall asleep faster and sleep better.
Reading teaches you to have more empathy.
While reading, we can peer deep into the character’s motives and emotions. We achieve a deeper level of understanding into why people do what they do. This insight into another person’s point of view has been proven to lead to more empathy in the reader.
Research shows that our brains respond to our imagination in the same way and through the same neural pathways as we do to real life experiences. This means that what the brain is experiencing while we are reading is being processed as if we are actually going through that experience. Because of this, we are able to feel what the characters are feeling which leads us to a deeper understanding of what it is like to be someone else.
Studies have also shown how reading about victims of discrimination leads to being more open-minded and accepting of people that are different from us. For example, reading the Harry Potter stories leads students to understand that Harry’s support of the “mudbloods” is a metaphor for racism in our society.
Successful people are readers.
I admit this one doesn’t apply to fiction books as much as it does nonfiction, but I consider it to be important enough I should mention it. I have never met a successful person who wasn’t a reader. I credit this as one of the top reasons for my own personal success as does a survey by Steve Siebold.
Steve has surveyed over 1200 of the world’s wealthiest people and discovered they all “Self-educate by reading.”
“Walk into a wealthy person’s home, and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful,” Steve says, “The middle class reads novels, tabloids, and entertainment magazines.”
Personally, I believe both nonfiction and fiction has their place in our lives. Fiction serves to provide us with empathy, stress relief, and a restful night sleep, while nonfiction teaches what we need to know to be successful at our money and careers.
Challenge yourself to read more books this year and let me know the benefits you receive in the process.
Question: What is your reading goal for 2017? You can leave a comment by clicking here.