Not many adults want to chat about The Hunger Games. I’ve learned this since becoming an adult myself. It was easier when I was a teenager, reading age-appropriate books. When the question “What books do you like to read?” came up, I would fit right in with my peers. Now, I’m an almost-26 year old married women reading Young Adult Novels. And I love it.
According to research- and this is science, guys!- reading fiction makes your brain better. Seriously. So now, I have a good excuse as to why An Ember in the Ashes is my most recent favorite. This article in Psychology Today talks about several studies that say that my brain improves every time I pick up another fiction novel.
First: Reading makes you more empathetic with other people.
Reading fiction was found to improve the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes…”
Apparently, imagining you’re fighting monsters or saving a city helps you empathize with other, real-life people. They compare it to muscle memory- the more you imagine you’re a superhero or supervillian, the more likely you are to imagine you’re homeless or grieving when you encounter other people who are.
Second: Reading improves your imagination.
Imagination is highly underrated in the above-12 population. I mean, sure, imagination can help you see yourself on a beach when your workday is super boring, but it can also help you improve your life: better ways of getting your job done, better ways to decorate your house, better ideas for surprising your spouse. And, for artist/authors, imagination is even more important, because it’s DIRECTLY related to how you provide for yourself.
Three: Reading helps you chill.
Another study (this time from the University of Sussex) says that even 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by two thirds. I don’t know about you, but being stress-free is a superpower that I would love to have- and apparently, do have, as long as my favorite novel is by my side.
Bonus: Reading poetry helps your memory. See here.
Get superpowered: check out my book reviews here.
At a minimum, we can say that reading stories—especially those with strong narrative arcs—reconfigures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us. This may have profound implications for children and the role of reading in shaping their brains.”
And that’s exactly what I’m going to tell people as I defend my reading choices. Well, that, minus the children part.