A young white woman smiling while reading for fun.

Photo Credit: Pexels, Andrea Piacquadio

3 Reasons You Should Start Reading for Fun

There are a lot of activities that we all do to fill up our free time. Going for a walk outside, binge watching your favorite TV show, playing basketball with your friends, dancing to the newest pop hits, you name it. Despite the fun and benefits that come with all of these activities, however, one that often goes overlooked and underappreciated is the act of reading for fun.

For me, there’s nothing more calming and heartwarming as sitting in the sun on a pool chair reading a new romcom or curling up by the fireplace with hot chocolate and cracking open a thriller. Reading for fun has more benefits than I can list here, but let me offer you a few reasons why you need to go on a date with a book more often.

1. Books let you escape to another world

Life throws a million different things at us, and sometimes you just need to escape to another world. This is where a good book comes in. When the craziness of the world is too much, a book can act as a safe haven. 

There have been multiple times in my life where I have needed the solace of a good book to fall back on. Launching yourself into a new book has a way of quieting the world around you and centering your thoughts on one thing. 

You’re able to create images, settings, characters, and dialogue in your head as you read, expanding your imagination. If you’re like me, you get so involved in a good book that you form emotional attachments to the characters and they become little friends for you to turn to when life gets crazy.

Unfortunately, last summer my family and I traveled a lot for funerals. I made sure that on every flight and car ride, I had a good book with me – preferably a romcom. They offered me solace during one of my hardest summers. Those books felt like a big, warm hug for me at a time when I needed it.

2. Reading for fun reduces stress

When life takes that turn for the crazy, it’s hard not to get stressed out over everything. Fortunately, it has been scientifically proven that reading reduces stress

A group of psychologists at the University of Sussex conducted a study where they found that reading reduces stress levels by 68%. It only took six minutes for the volunteers in the study to experience an ease in tension in their muscles and a slowed down heart rate. 

When reducing stress, the rest of your body reaps the benefits. Stress can cause inflammation in the body which can also translate to increased growth in cancer cells. Less stress in turn means less inflammation and a stronger immune system

Reading was more successful at reducing stress than listening to music, going for a walk, or having a cup of tea. Taking the steps to reduce your stress can save your life. And reading is the most effective way to do that!

3. It evokes empathy

When we read stories, not non-fiction accounts or philosophical essays, but fictitious stories, we increase our empathy. Reading allows us to see the world through someone else’s point of view. We are able to better understand the way one person might react in a situation depending on their beliefs and life experiences.

In The Telescope, Palomar College’s independent newspaper, Jason Pache said “Identifying with characters while reading stories by becoming emotionally involved with them vicariously is the key element to cultivating empathy toward others.”

Similarly, by connecting to the characters in the books we read, we build up our own love and compassion for people. We are more willing to want to be invested in other people’s lives and want to see them succeed.

BONUS: Book recommendations

Want to start reading for fun, but aren’t sure where to start? Ask your friends and family for book recommendations or start with the list below! These are some of my favorite fiction books that sent me to another world.

  • When In Rome by Sarah Adams (I suggest reading all of Adams’ books)
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry (I also suggest reading all of Henry’s books)
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

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