The power of reading

Lifestyle

Curling up with a book isn’t just a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon—or a last resort if you don’t have Wi-Fi. Research shows that linear reading challenges our brains in a way that Web browsing, watching TV, or listening to the radio simply can’t. And flexing our mental muscles in this unique way helps slow the rate of cognitive decline as we age. Reading can also reduce stress, help you feel more connected to others, and improve your mood.

Check out all of the benefits of reading, then find out which new releases deserve a spot on your nightstand: 

  • Keeps your mind fit. Think of reading as healthy exercise that helps keep your brain young and limber. Staying mentally active, with hobbies like reading, can help slow down memory decline. In fact, studies show cultivating this healthy habit may also reduce your risk of developing dementia.
  • Improves brain function. Research shows that reading activates 17 different regions of the brain, including those associated with language comprehension and movement. And your brain isn’t only stimulated while you read—those circuits stay active for at least five days after you close a book. 
  • Reduces stress. A beach getaway wouldn’t be complete without a best-seller in your tote bag, but you don’t necessarily have to go far to unwind. According to research, reading a book may reduce stress. You don’t even have to finish an entire chapter to reap the benefits. Just a few minutes of reading can slow down your heart rate and relax muscle tension. 
  • Makes you better company. Did you know that feeling empathy, an important social skill for relationships, is improved by reading certain books? According to a recent study, reading literary fiction enhances our understanding of others emotions and mental states, so it might make you a better companion. Identifying with characters in a book can also help you experience a sense of belonging and connection in the real world. 

The Best List
Rediscover your love of reading with these five books that you might have missed.

If you like family sagas, try Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.
If you like humor, try Yes Please by Amy Poehler.
If you like science, try How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson.
If you like mysteries, try Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
If you like romance, try Hello Love by Karen McQuestion.

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