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Five benefits of reading

By the TAFE Queensland Library Network

Reading, whether for work, study or leisure, has a range of benefits from increasing your vocab to reducing stress and more.

Whether you're a novice reader or a bibliophile, there are some interesting benefits of reading books and how they can improve your day to day.

Increase your vocabulary and comprehension skills

Reading strengthens your brain, helps you widen your vocabulary and aids in your ability to comprehend information. We’ve written before about employers looking to hire people who have great ‘soft skills’, just like these. Reading and working to increase your vocabulary aids your overall communications skills – a vital soft skill in every single industry!

Reduce stress

As a student juggling study with life and work commitments, it’s so important to ensure you’re keeping your stress levels as low as possible. Reading has been shown to lower cortisol (the human stress hormone) and activate brain regions that control pleasure and reward.

Help you prepare to sleep

By lowering your stress hormone, you can also lower your blood pressure and heart rate, helping you feel calm and ready for sleep. Choosing a book and using a warm coloured lamp is also a better choice than reading on a screen as the blue light emitted by your device could keep you awake and alert.

Prevents cognitive decline

Reading is a great way to keep your mind engaged and improve your cognitive ability as you get older. In fact, in a study published by The American Academy of Neurology found that reading and performing other brain-stimulating activities reduced the rate of memory decline by 32 per cent compared to engaging in average mental activity.

Might even help you live longer

In a long-term study published by Oxford University, researchers found participants who read books lived around two years longer than those who either didn’t read or read other media. The study found that people who read for more than 3 and a half hours per week had a 23 per cent higher chance of living longer than those who read nothing at all.

So, what should you be reading? 

Our advice: literally anything you want.

If you’re just getting into reading, it can be helpful to head to your local library and ask to speak to a librarian about how to start reading. One of their best abilities is in helping you find something to read – they know the shelves like the back of their hand.

And remember, if reading doesn’t come easy to you, there’s nothing to be ashamed or intimidated about. Our tips are to:

  • Ask a friend who reads or your local librarian/bookstore clerk for an easy page turner with short chapters or loads of cliff-hangers to keep you interested.
  • Try out Young or New Adult fiction. Ignore the age range of their intended audience, many people of all ages enjoy YA or NA fiction for its easy-to-read and fast paced plot lines.
  • Listen to audiobooks. Your local library membership may include the free use of eBook and audiobook apps like Libby and Overdrive.
  • Read the book version of your favourite tv show or movie. You might be surprised at the details and plot lines you missed out on experiencing in the screen adaptation.

Happy reading!