1st March 2023
Hannah Cox, Senior Digital Designer

The science of reading: the many benefits linked with reading for pleasure

I've noticed that a lot of the people who I follow on social media and my friends in real life have recently taken a fancy to reading. It is estimated that over 60% of adults in England read for pleasure.1 I’ve always been an avid reader and it’s been refreshing to see so many people turning to books as a way to relax and unwind after a long day. 

I’m definitely a pleasure reader and find that after a day at work there’s nothing more relaxing than switching off from all the screens/devices and picking up a good book. I find I sleep 10x better doing this than when I sit on my phone all evening too. I’m not sure I can entirely put it down to reading, but I've also noticed that I can complete more clues in a crossword now too, ha.

After noticing some benefits of reading in myself, curiosity struck and I did some research into the other benefits linked with reading. Here's what I found:


Exercise the brain
Just like every other part of the body, your brain needs exercise too and reading every day helps stimulate your mental activity, keeping it healthy. Recent research has shown that regular reading can actually slow down the progression, and even the on-set, of age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, by maintaining cognitive stimulation.2 

In addition to just keeping the brain happy and healthy, reading can also support memory retention. For example, when reading a fiction novel you’re required to remember character names, relationships and plots. This is essentially just a good training exercise to improve your everyday short-term memory! 


Reduce stress
Wellbeing is a hot-topic at the moment and there are so many ways to help improve your mental health. Reading can give you the time and space to occupy your mind with something other than the everyday worries and stresses of life - whether that be reading a fantasy novel and travelling to a different world or picking up a self-help book and discovering tips and tricks to help deal with your stress.

It could also be said that reducing stress and improving wellbeing will generally improve your mood too, so… reading makes you happy!


There are lots of ways that reading can support you in educating yourself; topic-specific books might help you learn new information and skills, foreign books can support you in learning a new language and all of the above will help expand your vocabulary!

If you have little ones at home, research has shown that reading for pleasure is a key factor in children’s educational success and is linked with attainment.3 Reading as a household activity can provide educational benefits for the whole family.


This kind of goes hand-in-hand with reducing stress, by removing tension and stress your body is prepared for sleep; therefore, people who read generally enjoy deeper and better quality sleep.


Maybe one of the less impressive benefits, but equally as important - a lot of the TV shows and movies we see on Netflix/Amazon Prime are adaptations or ‘inspired by’ some great books, so why not try reading them first?

Netflix even has its own “Netflix Book Club” where each month a different book being adapted by Netflix is highlighted.4 After the club reads and watches the movie together, virtual book club is held, where the cast and author talk about the process of how the books went from the page to the screen.4

There are so many amazing benefits to reading and there are also so many ways to read now too - if you don’t have access to physical books, you can try the Kindle App on your phone or if that’s not for you either, why not give audio books a go?



  1. Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. Taking Part Survey: Free Time Activities Focus Report, 2017/18.
  2. Alzheimers Research UK. Available at: https://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/keeping-the-brain-active-may-help-prevent-dementia-study-suggests/ (accessed February 2023).
  3. Department for Education. Research evidence on reading for pleasure, 2012.
  4. Netflix. Netflix Book Club. Available at: https://www.netflixbookclub.com (accessed November 2022).