The most impressive of the benefits of reading

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about some new scientific research on one of the surprising benefits of reading…

I need no proof to persuade me to read. Ever since I was six I have had my nose glued in a book. And if there’s no book available, I’ll read a newspaper or magazine. And if there’s not even one of those, I’ll read a cereal box…If you doubt my commitment to reading, check my lists of the 52 books I’ve already read this year. (I’ve been reading like this for well over a decade although reporting on it publicly for only the last six years.)

But last week subscriber Liz Williams sent me a link to blog known as On Fiction. Here’s how the writers — who are academics from four different universities — describe the blog’s purpose:

OnFiction has the aim of developing the psychology of fiction. Using theoretical and empirical perspectives, we endeavour to understand how fiction is created, and how readers and audience members engage in it.

And the post Liz sent me? Headlined, “Reading Extends the Lifespan,” the blog reported that reading books is associated with an extension of the lifespan by almost two years.

The conclusion is based on a 12-year follow-up study in which more than 3,000 participants people gave information on their reading habits. The researchers also gathered information about participants’ age, sex, race, education, health care, income, marital status and depression. Their conclusion?  People who read books, as compared with newspapers and magazines, had a significant advantage in longevity.

Not that I needed this proof...but I’m happy to have it.