Benefits of Reading

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I have previously written about the happiness of reading, a pleasure I hope everyone, or at least, most people experience. As I wrote before, I consider reading to be one of the main joys of life.

I also want to consider the benefits of reading. I think the first, and perhaps most obvious, value is that of education. Regardless of where the reading is done, or if it is for class or for self, all reading informs the reader in some way. While there are a myriad of ways to learn in life, reading still stands out as the primary, and most efficient, way of gaining information. (I am not in any way discounting the importance of learning through experience.) Readers can learn about areas of study that exist far outside of their particular areas of understanding or expertise. For example, I am a student of English literature, but I love reading books about quantum mechanics and the extraordinarily esoteric world of String Theory. I do not understand these ideas the way a physicist would, but I can still appreciate the ideas from books aimed at intelligent, non-specialist readers. Such reading allows the book lover to explore an almost unlimited range of ideas.

In addition to education, I think there is a second and equally important value to reading. I have read numerous articles recently about studies suggesting that people, who read, especially fiction, develop more empathy than those who don’t read (Chiaet). The overall point of the results of this study, as well as others, is that people who read fiction tend to learn to identify with other human beings and their problems. This is what many of our parents taught to us when they said that we needed to learn to walk in the shoes of other people. It is the basic idea of trying to understand how other people think and feel. Even without these scientific studies, I would assert that fiction helps us to develop empathy.

What do you think about this? Do any of you have other suggestions about the benefits of reading? I would enjoy seeing your ideas.

Works Cited

Chiaet, Julianne. “Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy.” Scientific
American.Com. October 4, 2013. Web.

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42 thoughts on “Benefits of Reading

  1. Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
    Reading was my outlet growing up and I spent many weekends at the library engrossed in fiction books in far away place. The characters were rich and lovely and I knew if I stayed in school and got a good education; I could do whatever I wanted and travel and maybe see some of those places I had read about. I learned the world was bigger than any one idea or person. It was invaluable and only achieved through reading. Love this article. Hope alot of young people can read it. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I completely agree with your outlook and am happy to have found another lover of reading.
    Reading relieves stress, helps when fighting insomnia, broadens the readers horizon, and helps learn new languages faster. My life would be very one sided if I didn’t have the possibility to read fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cathy

    I have often been called an empathetic person. When I reflect on your latest entry, I believe reading has had a positive impact on the way I view life and more importantly the way I interact with others. Reading fiction allows you to get inside the brain of others and see how they might process the same information in a very differnt way then you might. Nothing makes me happier and at the same time sadder when I get to the end of the book and I just do not want it to end. I want to know more about the characters and their lives. That is why I am a sucker for a good trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know if ’empathy’ would be something that applied to how I feel or view those that can’t or don’t read. In my case to ‘sympathize’ might fit better. I’ve really never thought about it. Whatever the case, books have always been great teachers and the best adventures providers I’ve ever had.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t imagine NOT reading…that seems like a foreign concept to me.

    As a writer reading those within your genre can give you insight on how to better your own writing. Reading outside your genre can really expand how you look at your own genre and force you to take the time to concentrate on how to make your book relatable to those who aren’t prone to reading something like it.

    Reading can also help you learn to spell those words you’ve heard so many times but never seen before…such as colonel. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ” I am a student of English literature, but I love reading books about quantum mechanics and the extraordinarily esoteric world of String Theory.”

    Yikes! I assumed I was the only such creature.

    Have you read Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell? I’ve probably read it cover to cover six times, and have often consulted it a hundred times while composing. Yes, it’s that good.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Charles,
    I am intrigued with the whole idea of WHY reading is important. Would you be interested in doing a similar post for my blog geared toward parents raising children? I love the idea beyond just reading to learn…the discovery of social consciousness, empathy, kindness toward others. If you are game, leave a message and contact info on my blog and I’ll be in touch. Or send a tweet @dustbunnymaven

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charles, this is terrific. Thank you for a great post. Including fiction is critical. If people understood that reading fiction creates empathy and also creates readers, then they would be beating a path to the library. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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