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The Benefits of Reading

Reading reduces stress and can prolong lifespan by engaging the mind through narrative absorption and cognitive exercises.

By Hibba Rashid / Edited by Ayan Khazanchi and Christopher Diao

Updated February 5, 2024


Engaging in reading is not just a simple pastime but rather a constructive way to stimulate your mind and promote your overall well-being, mentally and physically. While many acknowledge the benefits of reading, it is crucial to understand how it positively impacts mental and emotional health to integrate it effectively into your daily life.

Last month Statice's branch in Syosset, New York, collaborated with a local nonprofit Sharing Stories! Like Statice Health International, Sharing Stories is youth-led. Their mission is to help impoverished communities in New York, USA, providing educational resources to children and adolescents. The organization hosts monthly book drives at various locations throughout Long Island, collecting books to be distributed to children from 0 to 18 living in the New York City area.

Over the past year Sharing Stories has collected over 900 books for the Brooklyn Book Bodega, their book distributing partner, and hosted numerous fundraisers. Statice's Syosset branch and Sharing Stories joined hands to host a book drive at Syosset High School, facilitating book donations to empower dozens of individuals living in nearby underserved neighborhoods.

Mental Health

Reading offers a myriad of ways to uplift cognitive health by enhancing critical thinking skills along with sparking imagination through diverse words, themes, and plots. Despite the misconception that "nothing interests [them]," readers can choose from a variety of themes and texts, allowing them to escape from their daily troubles and explore different perspectives, encouraging a unique perception of the world. The concept of "narrative absorption" emulates this engaging experience of being engaged in a story, "providing a pleasurable escape" that enhances overall well-being.

Stress, a prevalent challenge faced by all, can be significantly reduced through reading, as shown by the University of Sussex who found that reading, "can reduce one's stress by up to 68%". Moreover reading has been linked to a decrease in symptoms of depression, with bibliotherapy, primarily using fiction due to the emphasis on the importance of perspective, emerging as a valuable treatment method. This is illustrated by therapeutic bibliotherapy that focuses on how to lessen the negative impacts faced by those suffering diagnosed mental health disorders.

There is also developmental bibliotherapy that is used in our everyday lives, such as in schools, community centers, and even in our homes to assist children and adults when navigating through daily challenges. Overall, bibliotherapy is an accessible and simple treatment for those suffering with mental health conditions or those who just need guidance through difficult times.

Emotional Health

Beyond mental and emotional benefits, reading also significantly improves physical health. It has been associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate, contributing to stress reduction similar to yoga, without the need for expensive equipment. There is a well-known phrase that "reading helps you live longer" which may seem like a hyperbole, but it could not be more true. A study done by psychologists writing "Social Science and Medicine" Volume 164 tested the effects of reading on adults diagnosed with dementia. The results showed that readers who were actively reading experienced a decline in rapid deterioration and surprisingly, a "20% reduction in mortality compared to those who did not read".

Dementia occurs due to the impairment of cognitive function and causes symptoms such as memory loss and lack of judgment. Reading can help one exercise their brain and prevent parts of the brain that deteriorate when it is affected by dementia. A study done by Rush University explored reading's effects on dementia, "300 aging adults were tested over the course of six years, answering questions about their reading abilities and writing habits starting from childhood. After the death of each adult in the study, at the average age of 89, autopsies showed that those who were avid readers experienced 30% less memory loss and had the least physical signs of dementia" This study highlights the known fact that cognitive exercise, especially reading, has the ability to prevent dementia and even prolong our lifespan.


Rather than viewing reading as an obligation, it's essential to recognize its diverse benefits. Whether you enjoy fiction, history, or science, reading is a versatile activity that not only has the ability to keep you entertained but also impart knowledge, improve physical and mental health, along with diminishing the effects of stressors in your daily life. So, the next time you have a few moments to yourself, or feel stressed, consider reaching for a book to delve into a new world while unknowingly nurturing your body and mind.