By Teri Smith, Redwood Falls Public Library Director
Ceridwen Dovey wrote, “For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for you.” -The New Yorker, June 9, 2015.
Studies have shown that the brain experiences the same serenity caused by meditation when a person is reading. Reading fiction has been shown to improve a reader’s overall ability to identify and interpret emotion, and reading, in general, has been shown to increase empathy toward others. Most professionals agree reading is a productive activity that can promote good mental health, increase empathy, sharpen the mind, and impact behavior in a positive way.
Storytelling, creative writing, and reading have been recognized for their therapeutic potential. Libraries in ancient Greece were seen as sacred places and many of us still see them this way today! Throughout history, doctors and nurses have recommended patients and their families read books to learn more about their medical conditions, their feelings, and their coping with these conditions. Many soldiers, patients, those in therapy, as well as the general population, find writing about their issues, disease, their daily activities, and their feelings to be very beneficial. Something as simple as keeping a personal journal can have a healing effect for many people.
Bibliotherapy is the use of reading and writing for the purpose of healing. It can be formal and led by a doctor, nurse, or bibliotherapist, with those experts recommending reading or writing or certain topics. It can also be as informal as joining a library book club or getting some friends together to form a book club. It can also be as simple as two friends recommending books back and forth to one another and taking pleasure in the exchange of thoughts and ideas about the books.
So, Can Reading Make You Happier? The answer is yes, it can. Even six minutes of reading can be enough to reduce your stress levels by more than two-thirds, according to new research. It works better and faster than listening to music, going for a walk, or settling down with a cup of tea. –https://www.quora.com/Is-reading-bad-for-you, March 30, 2009.
Books not only stretch your brain, but they can also help make you a better, happier person. If you are looking for ways to read more, start small. Choose a topic you enjoy, read a few pages each day, and then increase the amount or time you read each day. You will be on your way to a calmer, happier you in no time.