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:
Okay, it’s time to finish reading this and go read a book. You’ll be happy if you do.