We certainly haven’t stopped loving learning and storytelling. No matter how we do it, it’s important we find time for it—it benefits us in so many ways.

We read books less than we used to—about 32% less than at the turn of the century, according to a recent Gallup poll. (1) We know the reasons: the advent of smartphones, the rise of social media, and a dramatic increase in instant entertainment options from streaming platforms. Still, in 2022, 39% of Americans read over 20 books, and 57% over 10. (2)

We tend to read a bit differently nowadays. While some devices distract us from valuable book-reading time, others have provided a new way to consume them. A third of people now read both print and digital books, which includes e-books and audiobooks. (3) We certainly haven’t stopped loving learning and storytelling. No matter how we do it, it’s important we find time for it—it benefits us in so many ways.

Reading feeds brainpower and brain health

If exercise and diet are what keep our bodies healthy, reading is the best of both for our brains. It is directly tied to all facets of intelligence. It builds our overall knowledge, including vocabulary and acquired skills (crystallized intelligence); strengthens our ability to reason, make connections, solve problems, and consider abstract concepts (fluid intelligence); and expands our ability to identify emotions in ourselves and others while helping us better process and regulate them (emotional intelligence). (4)

Reading is like a superfood for the brain, no matter how old we are. It increases mental stimulation, producing new neurons in our brain that fortify and enhance memory. Studies show that it boosts cognitive function throughout our lives, slows decline as we age, and can even delay the onset of dementia for years. (5)

Reading builds empathy

Reading is the powerful experience it is for so many of us because of how it makes us feel. It takes us outside of ourselves and puts us in another world, enabling us to see through others’ eyes and experience new things. Often without realizing it, reading stretches our empathy for others. And this carries over into our daily lives, helping us in many ways. In other words, reading lights up the brain in ways that mimic the neural activities of the experience you’re reading about. Studies have found that the immediate experience has a positive association with affective empathy, the capacity to share another’s feelings and emotions. (6)

Reading drives ideation, critical thinking, and decision-making

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, books generally have a beginning, middle, and end—and that’s a great thing for our brains. With this structure, our brains are encouraged to think in sequence, linking cause and effect. The more we read, the more our brains are able to adapt to this line of thinking. (7) This is critical for just about everything we do in life, whether it’s at the office or home, in groups or alone, if we have the time to mull over a decision or make a quick one.

The more accustomed we are to processing information the way we do when we read, the more agile our minds are when dealing with tricky situations, uncomfortable feelings, and just good old uncertainty. We’re less likely to make irrational judgments or react in a way that could have negative consequences. And the greater our analytical skills, the more efficient and productive we can be.

Reading helps us express ourselves

Reading has a huge impact on our ability to effectively express ourselves and can increase our general self-confidence. (8) The more regularly we read, the more examples we come across of how feelings and experiences can be verbalized. And because we are more wired to seek understanding and meaning than we are to strictly remember, our brains store this kind of learning quite well, pulling it out to help us articulate and create influence when we need to. Reading also teaches us to focus and extract what’s important, which is critical for our ability to listen to others actively, understand situations clearly, and ultimately be as useful as possible.

Reading is a great excuse to put down your phone

Let’s face it, we all need to find more ways to disconnect from the devices ruling our lives. Anything connected to the internet
fosters distraction. We’re all so multitask-oriented and attention-fragmented that our brains are losing the ability to focus on
immersive texts and get what’s so beneficial from them. We spend so much time scrolling that we stop comprehending. (9) Let’s put down our phones and pick up a book. It’s all there waiting to be devoured and pondered over.

Find the time

Reading is not about instant gratification. It takes time. Time we seem to instantly understand we need more of the minute we
get a couple of pages in. Funny how it works like that. It’s why we say “I’m going to curl up with a book.” Reading has a wonderful
way of comforting, grounding, and centering us. It can both destress us and enhance our understanding of the world around us. It can open whole new worlds for us.

Thanks for checking out the blog. 

Gregory Armstrong, CFP®



(1) Gallup: Americans Reading Fewer Books Than in Past

(2) The Happy Guy Writing Services: American book reading statistics for 2022 and 2023

(3) Pew Research Center: Three-in-ten American now read e-books

(4) Healthline: 7 Ways Reading Does a Brain Good

(5) MedicalNewsToday: Do reading, puzzles, and similar activities really stave off dementia?

(6) Big Think: How reading fiction can make you a better person

(7) Open Education Database: Your Brain on Books: 10 Things That Happen to Our Minds When We Read

(8) LinkedIn: The Benefits of Reading Books.

(9) Wired: Why the Smart Reading Device of the Future May Be … Paper


This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. CDs are FDIC Insured to specific limits and offer a fixed rate of return if held to maturity, whereas investing in securities is subject to market risk including loss of principal. This material was prepared by LPL Financial.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). 

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