We all know that reading broadens our horizons; it increases our knowledge, thus making us well-rounded human beings. And it turns out, doing so simply because we enjoy it could be the key to a less stressful, happier existence, according to a new study.
According to the new research, reading for pleasure can have an enormous impact on our everyday lives, and empower us to make meaningful changes for the better.
The research, commissioned by Galaxy and conducted by the University of Liverpool on behalf of Quick Reads reveals that, not only are books brilliant and joyful escapism, but also that they can make us more tolerant and empathetic, and provide us with the confidence to make monumental life decisions. The survey also came up with many more positive statistics, including the following:
- 27% of the population have been inspired to make a positive change in their life from reading such as look for a new job or end a bad relationship.
- 36% of the population have been inspired to go travelling by a book (Wild, anyone?)
The study also revealed that reading has inspired us to make other positive changes in our lives:
A fifth has been motivated to take better care of their health by reading a book, and 19% of adults say books have given them the impetus they need to take up a new hobby.
Books can change people’s lives
The study has also revealed that books lead to a more tolerant and empathetic society. As many as half of those surveyed said that reading makes them more sympathetic to other people’s beliefs, whilst 17% of readers report that books have inspired them to remain calm during a disagreement, compared to just 5% of those who never read.
And it gets better. The report also found that reading had an enormous impact on stress – and in a very positive way. Forty-one percent of people considered it a better way to relax than hanging out with friends, and 38% cited it as their number one stress remedy.
People also said that when they empathised or felt an affliction with a particular character, it brought them comfort and made them feel better about their everyday lives and worries. The research showed that we prefer to read about someone who makes mistakes (23%) and is funny (20%) more than we value a character who is brave (19%), loyal (17%), or kind (11%).
And the character that most women identified with? Bridget Jones with all her glorious, perfectly imperfect ways.
Lead researcher, Dr Josie Billington at the University of Liverpool, said of the study: “What has been made abundantly clear by this research is that books can help us to enjoy the little things in life, and be happier in ourselves. It’s a useful and timely reminder for all of us to draw on the many benefits that only reading can deliver.”
So, essentially this is confirmation that books make us feel happier, less stressed and can generally help us make positive life changes.
We think that’s as good an excuse as any to open your favourite book with your cup of wine/tea this weekend.
Read the study in full here