The Benefits of Reading Fiction: 5 Facts You should Know

I have always been an advocate of reading fiction whether you are young or old. It has always been a pleasurable pastime and a means to escape the real world since I was a young child. I have also learnt so much about people, places, personalities, food, etc. from reading fiction which has made learning easier and more enjoyable.

A lot of people see reading fiction as a waste of time and this stems from the notion that there are no benefits when you read fiction. They have been raised to see reading from an academic point of view where you are rewarded for reading. This is why you find most adults reading more non-fiction titles as they expect to learn one new concept or the other from them and don’t feel they would get the same rewards from reading fiction.

Unknown to most, fiction has quite a number of benefits that may even outweigh reading non-fiction and academic books. Research has shown that reading fiction plays an important role in our lives and wellbeing and here are 5 facts that may change your mind.


  1. Mental Stimulation : Reading fiction is a work out for your brain. Science tells us that it exercises your brain and improves your memory. It has been said to help reduce the risk of dementia and depression. It helps focus your energy, improves your concentration and sharpens your analytical skills. Reading fiction also plays an important role in building brain networks in children that will serve long term as they transition from speaking to reading. Children whose parents often read to them at home showed significantly greater activation of the brain’s left hemisphere. The left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for speech and the integration of sound with visual imagination and the development of this is key in children.


2. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Reading fiction allows you to feel and live another person’s life, therefore it increases your empathy and your ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. Research has shown that people who read fiction performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence. These are skills that come handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking. This has been attributed to the fact that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.


3. Reduce Stress:

reading for stress reduction


4.  Expands Knowledge and Vocabulary: Fiction expands your mind and vocabulary as it enlightens, educates, entertains and inspires you on new things, people, places, cultures, ideologies and belief systems. You will usually encounter unfamiliar words which will cause you to stop and find out what it means which adds a new word to your vocabulary. The most interesting part of this is that it make learning enjoyable as it does not come with the pressures that academic learning brings. Reading also improves your writing skills as most good writers are usually voracious readers of fiction. Reading fiction will also help to improve your conversational skills as you will encounter a lot of this in fictional stories.


5. Pleasure: A Survey of 1,500 adults in the UK revealed that 76% of them said that reading fiction improves their lives and helps to make them feel good. This is the foremost reason why I read. It relaxes me and helps me escape from what is going on around me. This helps me to be calm and happy.

I encourage both young and old people alike to inculcate the habit of reading fiction and have the pleasure of all the benefits that it brings. My advise for those who are new to reading fiction will be:

  1. Start small by reading for about 10 minutes a day and increase as time goes on.
  2. Try audio books if you have been used to passing time on social media or games on your phone.
  3. Join a book club to where you will have people to encourage you.
  4. Borrow books from a library so you don’t spend too much money in purchasing books.
  5. Read book reviews and recommendations on book blogs and websites to have an idea of what may interest you.

I hope this will encourage you all to read more fiction titles in the future.Good luck!


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