Reading Makes You a Smarty-Pants and Happy-Pants

A good book for you is good for you in many ways.

BY Rick Bursky
Sep.10,2019 / UPDATED ON MAY.13,2021

Reading makes you smart. No one would disagree with that, at least no one who’s at least a little bit smart. But now we’ll give you another, and perhaps more important reason to read a book. Reading makes you happy. Before I jump into some of the facts, let me hit you with something more important than facts, opinions.

Stephen King once said in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft that “books are a uniquely portable magic.” In A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin says that “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives only one.” And Harry Potter’s mother, J.K. Rowling, said “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

Now back to some facts. 

A 2008 review of bibliotherapy studies (Fanner & Urquhart, ‘Bibliotherapy for Mental Health Service Users’, Health Information and Libraries Journal, 2008) found that ‘bibliotherapy and associated interventions in the treatment of mental illness is supported by the evidence’ and that it’s particularly effective when used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Two earlier studies found bibliotherapy reduces depression (those studies are Cuijpers, ‘Bibliotherapy in Unipolar Depression’, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 1997; and Den Boer et al., ‘Why is Self-help Neglected in the Treatment of Emotional Disorders?’, Psychological Medicine, 2004). Of course, the smart thing to do is take my word for it that reading makes you smarter and not read those studies. It’s not half as fun to read as this article. Trust me, I wouldn’t make this up. 

A few other things reading a novel can do for you:

  • A book lets you experience different cultures, people and places. Historical context will come alive as you read a novel.
  • Reading engages your brain stretches as you create pictures in your mind. Once again, those pictures are unique, personal and may become inspiration.
  • You can read for free, ah, libraries.
  • Few things inspire you like reading books by great writers.
  • The more you read, the better you write.
  • Fun, of course, reading is fun. And the more you do it the better you read.
  • Reading will help you forget about your problems for a while — a good reason to read thick books.
  • Reading boosts your self-esteem. You’ll know more and feel better about knowing more.
  • If you’re single and dating, reading will help you date smarter people. Because you’ll be more interesting to talk to. 

Okay, it’s time to finish reading this and go read a book. You’ll be happy if you do. Just avoid these anti-semitic fairy tales by your favorite children's authors.

Keywords: readingbooksStephen KingGeorge R. R. MartinJ.K. RowlinglibrariesTreatment of Emotional novel
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