At the moment, as we are all required to stay at home in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the coronavirus (COVID-19), it might be a good opportunity to enjoy the books that we have not previously had the time to read.
I believe there is something very special about reading books. Books have a magic ability of making the reader feel that time has stopped while simultaneously allowing him/her to mentally travel through time. Importantly, books can provide numerous benefits, which can improve the reader’s health and well-being. Indeed, in a study conducted by experts from Yale University School of Public Health (2016) it was shown that people, who read books on a regular weekly basis had a survival advantage of 23 months compared to non-book readers, i.e. reading books was associated with living a longer life.
First of all, there is a whole process involved in reading books that can elicit various positive emotions. Deciding which book to read is an important first step. Whether visiting a bookstore or searching for books online, there is an excitement that accompanies the browsing between different stories until the final decision of which book to read is made. Once a book is selected, the reader creates the environment in which he/she will spend some time enjoying his/her book. Usually, a cosy setting is chosen, which may often be described as a calming, comfortable place that can be accompanied by items that make the reader feel even more relaxed such as a hot beverage, warm blankets or anything else that makes someone feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Depending on the type of book, the reader can expand his/her knowledge about a certain topic, (e.g. through history books, biographies etc.), work on personal difficulties (e.g. self-help books), learn a new skill (e.g. cookbooks), become inspired (e.g. travel/art books etc.), “escape” daily worries and enjoy a fictional story (e.g. mystery, romance, adventure etc.) and many more.
Although reading books is usually an activity that is enjoyed by each person on his/her own, it could also be a great bonding activity. For example, when parents read to their children, they help develop their children’s social and communication skills, stimulate their imagination as well as strengthen their relationship with their child. In addition, discussing books in book clubs can provide new perspectives on a particular book and can expand one’s social circle.
Furthermore, there are even more ways in which books can improve our well-being. Among other benefits, reading books has been found to reduce stress levels, improve one’s mood, stimulate creativity and imagination, improve cognitive skills (e.g. memory) and social skills (e.g. empathy) and promote relaxation.
So, which book will you read next?
- Bavishi, A., Slade, M. D., & Levy, B. R. (2016). A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity. Social Science & Medicine, 164, 44-48.