In 11th-century Japan, Murasaki Shikibu wrote what’s considered the world’s first novel: The Tale of Genji. In 1454, Johannes Gutenburg built the world’s first printing press. There are many other milestones in the timeline of books, and together, they form the history of books. Every year, millions of new or reprinted books are published and shared with readers across the globe. Why are books important? Here are ten reasons:
#1 Books improve your communication
People who read a lot often have better vocabularies than those who don’t. The more you read, the more words you’re introduced to. Research suggests that above-average readers have better vocabulary growth than average readers. Consistent readers are also more likely to have strong writing skills. This is because reading not only adds words to your vocabulary, but it trains the brain on effective sentence structures and expressing emotions through words.
#2 Books improve concentration and focus
Societies that prioritize productivity above all else often encourage a lack of focus. People are encouraged to multi-task to make the most of their time, even though the human brain is not wired to do more than one high-powered thing at once. While you might think you’re multitasking, you’re actually just quickly switching between tasks. It’s much better to focus on one task at a time. Books help with that focus by forcing you to concentrate and absorb what you’re reading.
#3 Books are linked to intelligence
When people read a variety of books, they’re gaining more information, better vocabulary, and better focus. Research suggests that people who have lots of books at home (assuming they are reading the books) tend to have higher academic achievements, better adult literacy, and even better skills with technology. Books can dive more deeply into topics compared to other mediums, like articles. This gives readers a more comprehensive understanding and makes them smarter.
#4 Books reduce stress
Studies show that it only takes about six minutes of reading to slow down a person’s heart rate and reduce muscle tension. A 2009 University of Sussex study learned that reading worked faster than listening to music or drinking hot tea. This makes it a powerful stress reliever. When you’re experiencing anxiety, reading a book helps you focus on something other than your stress. Fiction is a good genre because by entering a different world, you can escape the stressful present. Reading to reduce anxiety is a form of mindfulness.
#5 Books help you sleep
Considering a book’s effect on anxiety, it makes sense that reading before bed could improve your sleep. Many people prefer light fiction because nonfiction or something too exciting can make it harder to fully relax. The benefits of reading before bed apply to physical books, not e-readers. The blue screen light can interfere with your circadian cycle.
#6 Books improve your memory
Reading books is linked to better memory. The act of reading exercises your brain and encourages you to remember things like characters, plot points, or information. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, reading “challenging books” is a great way to keep the mind sharp.
#7 Books can increase your lifespan
According to a Yale University study, people who read books live about 2 years longer than those who don’t. This was true regardless of wealth, gender, education, or health. Considering that reading books reduces stress and helps sleep, which both play a huge role in a person’s long-term health, it makes sense that books should have a positive impact. There were some similarities for people who read newspapers or magazines, but books have a unique benefit.
#8 Books are good for children
There’s a wide range of reasons why books are so good for children. When parents read to their kids, it helps them form a special bond. Reading books also helps children develop their language skills, vocabularies, imaginations, and critical thinking skills. Kids who read are set up for more success in school and throughout their adult lives.
#9 Books bring people together
Another reason why books are important is how they facilitate community. Book clubs and other reading events can bring a wide range of people together. While discussing a book and its themes, people learn about one another’s unique perspectives and experiences. This encourages empathy and personal connection, fostering deeper relationships.
#10 There are benefits to both physical books and ebooks
When discussing books, it’s worth talking about the debate about whether physical books or ebooks are better. The reality is there are benefits to both. Research suggests people can absorb more from a physical book, especially if the books are challenging or long. On the other hand, readers can provide more accessibility because all you need is one device and an internet connection. Ebooks are frequently less expensive than physical books, too.