If you have to do a lot of reading for your courses, doing even more reading might not be at the top of your list of ways to spend your free time, but research suggests that maybe it should be. There are loads of benefits to reading just for the fun of it, including making yourself a better student, more adept writer, and getting your brain in shape. Sound too good to be true? Read on to learn about why reading is one of the best ways to relax, offering you the chance for fun and some serious brain benefits at the same time.
Reading gives you an overall academic edge. In a study of more than 17,000 British children, researchers found that those who read regularly (once a week or more), had higher test results in vocabulary, spelling, and mathematics. While previous studies had found a link between language-based subjects and reading, researchers were surprised to learn that reading improved mathematics ability as well, suggesting that reading for fun has a much more far-reaching impact on the brain than previously thought.
Readers tend to be better writers. As it turns out, immersing yourself in literature is a great way to improve your own writing skills. While you won’t instantly turn into Hemingway just from reading The Sun Also Rises, you will learn to recognize what look narrative looks like and how to structure writing for clarity, influencing and enhancing your own written work.
Reading fiction enhances imagination and empathy. Looking to better relate to others? You may want to pick up a novel. A study done in 2012 found that reading fiction not only improved brain connectivity in the language centers of the brain, but also in the parts of the brain that drive the ability to imagine oneself in another’s shoes. In fact, novels were found to literally rewire the reader’s brains to imagine themselves in the place of the protagonists, with the effects lasting weeks or more.
Reading helps students of all abilities. It’s long been known that reading can help you learn new things (especially with regard to vocabulary and verbal development). But new research has shown that it actually helps you to better retain information, an effect that is the same whether you’re a natural gifted student or someone who struggles with reading and academic pursuits. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, reading can help you improve your academic performance.
Reading reduces stress. Feeling burnt out on life? While your first instinct might not be to pick up a book, maybe it should be. Research suggests that reading is an excellent way to reduce stress. In fact, a 2009 study found that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%.
Reading makes you better at analytical thinking. If your major requires a lot of analytical thinking, take note: reading can help give your brain a boost when it comes to using logic and reasoning. Studies have found that the more you read, the better you become at spotting patterns and ultimately at being a strongly analytical thinker.
Reading has a dramatic impact on vocabulary. If you want to sound smart, becoming an avid reader is a great first step. Reading will expose you to a whole host of new words that may just make their way into your own vocabulary.
Reading improves your focus and concentration. Unlike consuming other types of media, reading a book requires long periods of focus and attention. Repeated use of this ability (a really gripping, can’t-put-it-down novel can help) will strengthen it and ultimately make it easier for you to give your attention to just about any kind of task for a longer period of time.
Summer break is the perfect time to do some reading for fun, so don’t miss out on all the great benefits that can help keep your brain in shape over the break and have you ready to tackle any courses you take in the fall.