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How Can Adults Benefit From Reading Fiction Books?

Recently, the Harvard Business Review made a case for reading fiction by identifying some of the core skills we can learn by reading fiction. In fact, growing research in neuroscience tells us that reading more fiction can help us grow as people both personally and professionally.

Reading fiction helps boost cognitive skills such as critical thinking and theory of mind by exercising the various cognitive muscles. That’s why educators urge parents to teach more frequent reading habits in children from a very young age, even if it’s the same story every night at bedtime.


But could adults be benefiting from reading more? Absolutely! Most experts and scientists suggest reading fiction as much as reading non-fiction books because the former helps you take on the more challenging questions in life.

Let's look at how exactly reading fiction is more than just a hobby but a tool to make you a better person at work or home.


Get better and more regular sleep

Several world leaders quote reading fiction as a crucial part of their nighttime routine when they need to wind down for bed.

This is because reading creates a disengagement that allows you to separate yourself from the rest of your day. Some even like to complement this with a stroll in the park and coming home to read in bed and wake up refreshed the next day.

Experts suggest that a fictional read is better because it allows you to poke your imaginative side instead of reading non-fiction which compels you to think about the future.

Fiction helps you navigate close relationships

The older we get, the more challenging it can get to navigate interpersonal relationships. Sometimes you hit a brick wall in both platonic and romantic relationships, and it's not always helpful to talk about.

If you're used to finding the best resolution on your own, fiction helps you explore a range of ideas and complex emotions.

According to experts, it simulates an alternate reality that helps you grasp complex problems that you may not necessarily be experiencing but can still draw parallels with. Also, when you read more fiction, it enables you to develop more empathy for other people and their mental states. You learn to put yourself in their shoes, which is a necessary skill that helps you develop stronger relationships.


Sharpen your memory

When you listen to a story, you’re more likely to remember it for a long time. Recent research indicates that you’re also less likely to experience a decline in memory if you read more often.

More frequent readers experience fewer characteristics of Alzheimer’s and dementia, which inevitably contributes to a better quality of life as you grow older.


Andy Lazris, MD, is a practicing primary care physician, a student of history, and has been an author for most of his life, writing both fiction books online and about our health care system. Check out his e-books or learn more about him here.

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