What Is the Point of Reading Books?

Even if you consider yourself a bookworm, sometimes it can be difficult to motivate yourself to pick up a book and start reading. You may feel guilty about not spending that time differently or want to spend that free time doing some other activity, such as watching TV or listening to a podcast. Sometimes, reading books may feel a little pointless.

The point of reading books is that doing so helps your cognitive, emotional, and mental health. Reading books is also a great source of entertainment, encourages creativity, and can help you sleep. Some studies imply that it may even extend your life.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the many benefits of reading books for adults and children to illustrate the point of reading. I’ll also offer some insight on the point of reading fiction and poetry. If you want to feel better about the time you spend reading, start by reading this article!

The Benefits of Reading Books

There are many benefits to reading books that provide the activity with its “point” or purpose. Here are some of the best advantages that being an avid reader brings:

1. Reading Helps Your Brain

Reading stimulates the left hemisphere frontal, temporal, and parietal parts of your brain. The more you read, the more stimulation these areas get. In turn, they become stronger. Brain scans indicate that the somatosensory cortex significantly improves with consistent reading. This part of the brain helps your respond to physical sensations quicker.

Furthermore, reading books improves your memory. Because the activity repeatedly stimulates your brain, it gets easier for the brain to recall information over time. Because of this, reading is particularly worthwhile for elderly people experiencing cognitive decline.

2. Reading Improves Your Focus

Everything is fast nowadays. You can get a hamburger in less than five minutes. You can pick up your phone and FaceTime someone halfway across the world immediately. In fact, many people think a three-minute video on TikTok is too long. The average attention span for a person in the United States is down to just eight seconds.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to train your brain to focus on one task for a longer amount of time—especially since most of our school and work tasks require more than eight seconds to accomplish.

The ability to focus without getting distracted is increasingly difficult, and reading a book is a great way to exercise this skill. If you can sit and read for thirty minutes, you’ll likely be able to sit and write an essay for thirty minutes or spend thirty minutes creating a spreadsheet or whatever other tasks may come your way.

3. Reading Helps Your Mental Health

Reading can help you reduce stress, relax, and improve your overall mental health. This is because it lowers your blood pressure and feelings of distress. In one study, participants with depression experienced significant improvement in their social, mental, emotional, and psychological well-being when they participated in a reading group.

Furthermore, certain nonfiction self-help books provide information and tools for dealing with mental health struggles that people may find helpful if they are in a bad place mentally.

4. Reading Builds Your Vocabulary

If you read a lot, you’re bound to encounter more words than a non-reader. Once you figure out the meaning of a new word, whether through context clues or looking up the definition, you can incorporate that word into your everyday life and conversation. This can help you express yourself more clearly and accurately.

People with large vocabularies are also more likely to perform well in college and job interviews.

5. Reading Provides Entertainment

Entertainment is essential for living a well-rounded, happy life. A source of entertainment can be anything that provides you pleasure or amusement, and books certainly qualify. A wide variety of books are available, so you can find the perfect book that will keep you distracted, amused, or delighted.

Regular entertainment is important because it can give you a break from the monotony of your life or work. Additionally, entertainment helps preserve your mental health, and it can be a way to bring you closer to the people around you. For example, you can join a book club and enjoy spending time with a group and having something interesting to discuss.

For more information, you can read my thoughts on why books are entertainment.

6. Reading Enhances Your Empathy Skills

Reading books is a great way to improve your capacity for empathy, which has many benefits. When you read, you’re likely to feel connected to the characters in the story and care about what happens to them, which compels you to keep turning the pages. This care is essential for developing your ability to have empathy for others in real life.

Being empathetic isn’t just good for the people around you; it also benefits you! Empathy can help you develop deeper connections with those around you, strengthening your ability to regulate emotions. Therefore, the next time you’re feeling stressed or sad, you’ll be able to respond to these emotions in a healthy way.

7. Reading Empowers You With Knowledge

Reading is one of the best ways to learn something new because the author of a book usually does extensive research and is passionate enough about the topic to publish a book that is potentially hundreds of pages long on the subject.

While there are other great ways of learning information, such as watching a YouTube video or listening to an informative podcast, reading books is an excellent way to diver deeper into a topic you’re interested in or need to know more about.

Reading requires more attention than other forms of learning (including the aforementioned YouTube video or podcast), so you’re more likely to retain the information you glean from a book. Many people attempt to multitask and do other things while watching a short video or listening to audio-only, but reading books requires you to give your full attention to the page. This will help you learn more.

Additionally, you can find a book on almost any topic you can think of, so there is a wide breadth of knowledge available at your fingertips should you give yourself the time and opportunity to read.

8. Reading Encourages Creativity

Books are made through interconnected art forms, including writing, bookbinding, and cover design. Therefore, when you read books, you’re encouraging the creativity and artistic endeavors of everyone involved in the book’s creation.

Additionally, reading can also inspire your own creativity. Often, people may feel inspired to create a work of art after reading a particularly influential book. For more of my thoughts on the artistry of books, you can read my article on if books are considered art.

9. Reading Can Help You Sleep

Reading may be the best solution if you struggle with falling asleep at night! Reading a book can help you feel more relaxed and stress-free, which assists with getting a night of deep, peaceful sleep.

If you read a book before bed instead of looking at your phone or watching TV, you’re far more likely to get a better night’s rest. This is in part due to the fact that the blue light of screens decreases the amount of melatonin your body creates. Melatonin helps control your circadian rhythm, so too much screen time before bed is terrible for sleeping well. Luckily, you don’t need to worry about that when reading books!

10. Reading Can Help You Learn About the World

Many people desire to travel, see the world, and experience new cultures. However, travel is often expensive, time-consuming, and harmful to the environment. For many, international travel is not a realistic possibility, at least not on the scale they’d like.

Luckily, reading allows you to experience a variety of places, dialogues, personalities, cultures, and more in an in-depth and entertaining way.

11. Reading Helps You Live Longer

Because reading helps improve your brain’s function, boosts mental health, provides entertainment, and promotes emotional intelligence, people who read books are likely to live longer than those who don’t. This is just one of the many benefits of reading that are still being discovered today.

Why Is Reading Important for Children?

Reading books out loud to children and encouraging them to develop a reading habit is extremely beneficial. By encouraging a child to read, you’re promoting a lifelong love of learning. This helps your child pursue a life of challenge, discovery, and fulfillment.

Reading out loud to children helps them learn more words, form sentences, and understand storytelling. For a child to follow a story, they need to focus and think, which can help them develop new ideas and nourish their imagination.

Books also help children develop their empathy skills, which can help them to become more understanding, compassionate, and well-connected adults. Children exposed to various characters and situations are more likely to develop a clear moral compass.

Finally, reading a book with your child can help you develop a strong relationship with them. Reading every night can be a bonding event that you can look forward to throughout the day.

For a more thorough explanation of why reading books with children is important, you can read my article on why kids need books.

The Point of Reading Fiction

Most people will likely agree that reading nonfiction isn’t pointless, but some may argue that reading fiction is a waste of time. Here are some of the best benefits of reading fiction:

  • Reading fiction helps the brain’s ability to be open-minded. Fiction literature often asks readers to suspend their disbelief and accept things as truth, even if it is far-fetched. This helps people become more open-minded and think outside the box.
  • Fiction enhances your imagination. Reading fantasy or other imaginative fiction can help you boost your own imaginative abilities. An active imagination encourages your emotional, linguistic, and cognitive development.
  • Fiction helps relaxation. All reading can be relaxing, but especially fiction. With fiction, you can escape to worlds different than your own; if you’re stressed out, frustrated, or overwhelmed by your life or the news, you can escape to a fictional world to help yourself relax.
  • Novels can reduce prejudice. Reading fiction is an effective strategy to improve attitudes towards stigmatized groups, including immigrants and refugees. Exposure to various characters from many places and with different beliefs can help people develop respect for those who differ from them in real life.

There is a point to reading fiction, even if it doesn’t necessarily help you learn new factual information.

The Point of Reading Poetry

Just as some people argue that reading fiction is pointless, some believe reading poetry wastes time. Here are some reasons why poetry is not pointless:

  • Reading poetry can improve your patience. Many poems are experiments that play with language and words in new ways, so you may not understand a poem right away or after the first read. To enjoy the poem, you may need to move slowly and think about every choice within the poem and its meaning.
  • Poetry can be therapeutic. You may find reading poetry extremely therapeutic if you struggle to express your emotions. Poetry is often extremely personal and reveals the soul and emotions of the writer; if you can connect with what the poet is expressing, you may feel less alone.
  • Poetry encourages creativity and thinking outside the box. Poetry is known for using language in clever ways. This can be a challenge for the reader at first but also helps encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Poetry promotes critical thinking. Lots of poetry requires analysis and reflection on what language or grammar rules are being broken or bent, encouraging you to think more and strengthen your brain.

Just like fiction, there are many advantages to reading poetry. For more benefits, you can read my article on why poetry is important.


Some people consider reading to be pointless or a waste of time. However, this could not be further from the truth. The many advantages of reading books—including fiction and poetry collections—make it a worthwhile venture in your life through which you can enjoy cognitive, emotional, and creative benefits.

So, next time you have some free time, you shouldn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about spending that time in the pages of a book.

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