Books Are Not Just Words


Andrea M. Perez

Not many people enjoy reading books. They either find it boring, unentertaining, or simply a waste of time. I used to think the same way. Little do they know that reading has many benefits to one’s mental health and intellectual development.

A Brain in Action

On the health side of reading a book, it helps with one’s mental stability. While reading, your brain is in action, processing the words and making connections throughout the course of reading the story. This type of engagement helps avoid cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is when there is an apparent drop in cognitive functions such as thinking and memory. Avni Bavishi, an MD candidate, says that cognitive decline is one of the causes that leads to mental health problems. An example of this would be Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Keeping a well balanced mental health through the reading of books can also help you live longer. Another study done by Bavishi says that people who read lived longer than those who did not on average.

Human Connection

The other benefit of reading a book is intellectual development. When it comes to this aspect of reading, genres have an effect. In this case, fiction plays an important role. Studies carried out by the University of Buffalo show that reading helps us understand the essentials of human connection. Books have characters, whether it is in a first-person point of view or omniscient narrator, and as a reader, you learn about the characters’ lives, feelings, and emotions. This knowledge of the characters of relationship with the characters mimics the same feelings one experiences with other in the real world. “Social connection is a strong, human need,” said Shira Gabriel in the press letter explaining the study. Do not feel scared at the thought of books mimicking real life, it only helps you understand people and real-life situations.

The genre of fiction also adds to intellectual development. Keith Oatley, who has a Ph.D. and is a professor at the University of Toronto teaches applied psychology and said that when readers enter the minds of others, they gain a better understanding of that person. One of this research studies also states that people who were noted to be fiction readers scored higher on social ability and empathy tests.

The Magic of Reading

Besides the already stated benefits of reading, there is the benefit of getting pulled in by a book. Books give you a certain type of enjoyment and amusement when reading something you are interested. Not everyone is a fan of reading. There are those select few that have the opportunity to discover the magic behind immersing yourself in a book and wanting to read more. This does not necessarily have to be from books. There are people who enjoy reading magazines, essays, and other forms of literature that are not books which do not invalidate them from being called readers.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads only lives one.”—George R.R. Martin. This quote sums up the points mentioned. When it refers to the thousand lives, it means the many worlds and characters an individual reads are other lives that the person gets to experience. Unlike the other man, who has never read, only lives the life he has. I’m not saying that everyone should read. I am saying that, from personal experience, reading can be much more than what you think.