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How Reading Makes You a Better Person

How Reading Makes You a Better Person

You’ve heard it said time and time again before: reading matters. No matter who you are, a love for reading books is a valuable life skill. Books can transport us to other times and places, let us walk in someone else’s shoes and show us entirely new worlds we never could have imagined. And of course, if fictional books create new worlds, then nonfiction books explain the world we live in. 

No matter what genre or type of literature you love, you can always learn something new from a book. In fact, reading books can even make you a better person. Books are a valuable source of information, creativity and empathy. If you’re not a book lover now, you will be soon. Here’s how reading makes you a better person.

1. Reading improves cognitive intelligence.
You may know by now that reading makes you more intelligent. Not only does reading strengthen your vocabulary, but it can actually change certain parts of the brain and even activate other areas. One 2013 study conducted by Emory University found reading novels could rewire certain parts of the brain, producing biological changes which lasted for up to five days. This “rewiring” of the brain improves the reader’s cognitive intelligence. Although, the cognitive effects from reading are not permanent unless they are consistently refreshed through—you guessed it—more reading.

2. Reading strengthens your empathy.
Reading fiction can also play a critical role in strengthening your level of empathy for others and the world around you. Reading gives you an inside look into a character’s life, their experiences and emotions. This intimate access opens up your critical thinking capabilities and activates empathy sensors. One study published in 2013 by Science found reading literary fiction helps improve people’s “Theory of Mind” (ToM), or their ability to understand someone else’s different beliefs and feelings. This makes you more aware and sensitive to others’ struggles, their cultures and their customs, causing you to be more forgiving and nurturing than before.

3. Reading improves your happiness.
This might come as a surprise, but reading can also improve your happiness with yourself and life. Researcher Josie Billington at the University of Liverpool shared a study in 2015 when she surveyed 4,164 adults, and found interesting contrasts between people who read regularly and those who didn’t. Consistent readers reported feeling less stressed and less depressed, with higher self-esteem levels and a greater ability to cope with challenges. Compared to non-readers, they also showed higher results in close friendships and community connections, with a stronger awareness for social issues and cultural diversity. All of this resulted in a stark difference between the happiness levels for consistent readers and their non-reader counterparts.

4. Reading protects your memory.
Brain-boosting activities like reading can also protect your memory, both short- and long-term. A 2013 study conducted by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago discovered consistent readers tend to show fewer signs of memory loss as they age. In the study, researchers conducted memory and thinking tests on 294 people during the last six years of their lives. After participants’’ deaths, they performed autopsies to look for signs of dementia. Researchers then discovered that participants who were avid, lifelong readers, showed 32% lower rates for memory decline at the end of their lives. Turns out, you can add a significant benefit to your life just by picking up a book.

There’s no doubt about it: reading improves wellbeing and can make you a better person. If you haven’t picked up a book in awhile, now might be the perfect time to do so. Try to incorporate more reading throughout your life and see how you can grow and influence others through it.

Our Impact in 2017

January 1-December 31
  • CAPSA is a non-profit domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape recovery center serving Cache County and the Bear Lake area.

  • YCC Family Crisis Center is a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center provide services 24/7 to victims and their children.

  • Utah Legal Services (ULS) is a nonprofit law office incorporated in 1976 committed to making equal justice a reality by providing free legal help in non-criminal cases to low-income Utahns.

  • South Valley Services is a domestic violence service provider in West Jordan, Utah. We provide safe shelter and supportive services to women, men and their children who have been impacted by domestic violence.

  • Today, the YWCA is Utah’s most comprehensive provider of family violence services; our programs include walk-in services and a crisis line, emergency shelter, transitional housing, children’s programs, and a vast array of supportive services.

  • Established in 1990, Seekhaven assists survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault rebuild their lives. Serving Grand County and Southeastern Utah, Seekhaven provides a wide range of essential services including client advocacy, emergency shelter, and transition assistance.

  • Peace House is dedicated to ending family violence and abuse through education, outreach, support services, and safe housing.

  • New Hope Crisis Center has been serving Box Elder County for 30 years. Our mission is to provide all-inclusive, integrated, victim-centered services to stabilize and support individuals, families, and our community.

  • Founded in 1984, The Center for Women and Children in Crisis has been in continuous operation for 33 years. Our mission is to provide a caring, advocating, safe, and educationally based environment for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

  • Our organization advocates for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and the homeless. Serving people in Sevier, Piute, Millard, Sanpete and Wayne counties of Utah.

  • The DOVE Center is the only area agency providing safe-shelter, crisis intervention, and prevention for clients who have been victimized by violence in their home – whether by a family member or cohabitant – that also serves victims of rape and sexual assault.

  • Founded in 1922, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake is a non-profit organization that promotes safety, stability and self-sufficiency for low income families and individuals, as well as victims of domestic violence, through effective, efficient legal advocacy and assistance.

  • Canyon Creek Services provides free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Iron, Beaver and Garfield Counties.

  • Valley Behavioral Health is a nonprofit network of clinics providing treatment for behavioral conditions, addictions, psychiatric conditions, autism and other chronic health conditions. We treat chronic lifelong conditions as well as temporary conditions triggered by traumatic life events. Our programs are tailored to people of all ages and every social, cultural and economic situation.

  • Preserve the heritage. Enhance the wellbeing. Strengthen the future of the People.

  • Our Mission: To bring hope, justice, and healing to victims of domestic violence murder by providing holistic non-profit legal representation in the civil, probate and family courts.

  • At Amethyst Center for Healing we are dedicated to helping individuals, families, and communities recover from trauma and abuse, so that we may all live peaceful, empowered lives.

© 2018 Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

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