Reading can be a great experience if we immerse ourselves in an exciting novel , and it can also make us more intelligent if we spend our time reading about subjects that bring us new knowledge. Our readers know this, and that is why they follow us and visit us every day.

And that’s because reading, besides being entertaining, can be a great source of information. But science has wanted to go further and has discovered new benefits of reading: according to different researches, reading makes us happier … Do you need more reasons to keep devouring books?

In today’s article, we will talk precisely about the relationship between reading and happiness and the effect that bibliotherapy has on people. Interesting, isn’t it? But first of all, we want to help you be happier, so we are going to recommend some posts that you cannot miss:

  • The 50 Recommended Books to Read Throughout Your Life
  • The 20 Best Psychology Books You Can’t Miss
  • 5 books on psychology to read this summer
  • Top 10 Self-Help and Self-Improvement Books

Science confirms it: reading makes us happier

But what exactly does science say about happiness and reading? Well, in a nutshell, science says that reading improves our emotional and physical well-being and helps us to cope with existence. According to the results of a study carried out by the University of Rome III, regular readers are happier and more satisfied. Not only that, but they are also less aggressive and more optimistic. The researchers analyzed the data provided by 1,100 subjects who were interviewed. And to carry out the study, they used different indexes: such as Veenhoven’s happiness measurement or Diener’s scale. The latter records the degree of satisfaction with life.

On the other hand, according to an article in the newspaper El País , which echoed research carried out by a team of neuroscientists from Emory University (Atlanta), reading helps reduce stress and increases emotional intelligence (mainly self-knowledge and empathy) and psychosocial development.

Bibliotherapy: therapy through books

“Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem and less depression,” according to an article in The New Yorker discussing bibliotherapy, a therapeutic method or resource based on promoting different skills that improve people’s well-being and relationships with others, taking into account patients’ interpretation of the content of books.

“Reading puts our mind in a pleasant state of mind, similar to meditation, and brings the same benefits as deep relaxation,” the same article states. Those who enjoy page after page reading books may not be surprised to learn that reading has many mental and physical health benefits .

Bibliotherapists are aware of the benefits of reading, and so these professionals recommend different specific books to their patients. Bibliotherapy can have different forms of application. For example, one-on-one in the patient-therapist relationship, or courses for older people with dementia or prisoners. One of the best known forms is “affective bibliotherapy”, which focuses on the therapeutic power of reading fiction. Sometimes it is difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of others, but it is not difficult to get into the role of a character.

Bibliotherapy improves empathy

The biblical therapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin tell The New Yorker that this practice dates back to ancient Greece, where a sign at the entrance to the Thebes bookstore reads: “place of healing for the soul”. So for those who think that reading is for lonely people, let them know that they are wrong.

“We have begun to identify how literature is able to improve people’s social skills,” explains The New Yorker Keith Oatley, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, USA. Research has shown that “reading fictional literature improves the perception of empathy, which is crucial to the theory of mind: the ability to attribute thoughts and intentions to other people”.

You can learn more about the theory of mind in this great article by psychologist Adrian Triglia: “Theory of Mind: what is it and what does it tell us about us?”