For those book worms who feel like other things take priority over snuggling up with a good old fictional novel, for those of you who’s guilty pleasure is hours of blissful escapism, I have some exciting news! A report (commissioned by Galaxy and conducted by the University of Liverpool on behalf of Quick Reads) shows that there are benefits of reading novels. So, reading for pleasure could be the key to a less stressed and more joyful life!
Sometimes, I long to read a book about the politics before World War I, you know, just so I could get my head around how the whole mess came about, or a book about geology and how those pretty crystals are formed deep below the earths surface. But, oh so often, my brain is much more content with a historical novel, that gently walks me through the characters dilemmas and triumphs without too much forehead creasing. Well, luckily for me, even these novels (even Miles and Boon!) are a good thing according to this new research.
Here’s what it claims (and the first 13 benefits of reading novels)
- reading for pleasure could have an enormous impact on our everyday lives, and empower us to make more positive life changes.
- 17% say reading makes them more likely to react calmly during a disagreement.
- 50% say that reading made them more sympathetic.
- 20% were motivated to take better care of their health.
- 19% reported feeling inspired to seek out a new hobby.
- 36% of people were inspired to go travelling from a book.
- 27% have been inspired to make positive life changes after reading.
- they can make us more tolerant and empathetic, and provide us with the confidence to make monumental life decisions.
- The report also revealed the enormous impact reading had upon stress.
- 41% of people considering it a better way to relax than hanging out with friends.
- 38% citing it as their number one stress remedy.
- People reported that when they felt an affiliation with a character in a book, it gave them comfort and made them feel better about their own lives.
- 31% reporting books made them realise their were happy with their lives as they were.
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It turns out however, that 35% of folk admitted that they would like to read but more often than not get distracted by television or the internet.
Dr Josie Billington at the University of Liverpool, (she’s the lead researcher) says that:
“What has been made abundantly clear by this research is that books can help us to enjoy the little things in life, and be happier in ourselves.
It’s a useful and timely reminder for all of us to draw on the many benefits that only reading can deliver,”
I’m on her team! Team Novel. Team, ‘Where’s my throw, I’m a snuggling up with Elizabeth Bennett!’ I feel I can relate to the benefits of reading novels. I read before I go asleep. It de-stresses me and gets me ready for so much needed sleep.
Another 9 benefits to reading novels
- Brain stimulation – the brain behaves like a muscle. Keeping it active helps keep it strong.
- Knowledge – you can learn all manner of things in a novel.Learning new vocabulary – being articulate and well-spoken is of great help in life in general.
- Memory improvement – it can be mentally challenging to remember dates, name and situations within the plot.
- Improved critical and analytical thinking – especially with Whodunnit novels! Who did do it? Also, critiquing the plot improves analytical thinking.
- Improves concentration and focus – In a world where our concentration span is reducing as we scan all our social media platforms, checking emails etc whereas when you read a book you are concentrating on one story in one book.
- Better writing skills – exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing. Observing the flow and structure of story telling are a few examples.
- Tranquility – In an every increasing world filled with noise, it’s wonderful to enjoy the peace of reading. Just the sound of a page turning and the fire cracking.
- Improved sleep – Reading a novel before bed can disentangle you from the days stresses.
- Creativity – Fiction allows for uncertainty and this is where creativity thrives!
Books I’ve read and recommend
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Thought provoking, life affirming, tragic and triumphant. I fell in love with Liesel and her faithful friend Rudy.
- The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning – In an age where only men blow glass and women decorate, three sisters were forced to become entrepreneurs and start their own glass-blowing business. I loved the struggles and the triumphs.
- All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr – You’ll love the relationship between a father and his blind daughter as he takes incredible steps to protect her during the war. In the end, she has to defend herself. It’s a book that shows how people try to be good to one another despite the odds.
- The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent – A novel based in the late 16th century in Massachusetts where life was hard and so the people were hardened. It focuses on accusations of witchcraft. I found it a haunting page turner.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – One day your kids or grandchildren will be reading this, so get involved.The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. It’s a good read, I promise!
- Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver – A clever book that makes you think of modern day environmental and class issues while being absorbed in the life of Dellarobia.
Books I have on my shelf, ready to read
- The truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker – It’s a whodunnit! Not my normal read, but this looks really good. A 15 year old gets murdered. Was it Harry Quebert, who fell in love with her that summer? ‘Nothing is as it seems’!!
- The girl with no name by Diney Costeloe – A heart-wrenching story of Lisa, who escaped Nazi Germany, only for her adoptive home in London to be blown apart. Now with no memory what will become of her?
- The Fighting Temeraire by Sam Willis – The story of the ship in Turner’s masterpiece.
- The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh – A love story involving French resistance and English spies.
- Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr – A small book about the authors adventures in Rome. He also writes about new parenthood and the craft of writing.
The book I’m currently reading
- Winter in Madrid by C.J.Sansom – It’s Madrid in 1940 after the Spanish Civil War (Hemingway gets a mention). Germany is marching through Germany and General Franco is deciding whether to enter the war. It’s a love story and a spy story. Tho’ don’t expect James Bond. These characters are very human, flawed and vulnerable.
What benefits of reading novels have you experienced? Let us all know in the comments. As always, we love to hear from you!