Benefits of reading as a hobby and the reasons why more books need to be written.

Reading as a hobby
There are many benefits to reading as a hobby and all of them are reasons why your book needs to be written.

Have you ever wondered if people are reading anymore? With the amount of time people spend on social media does anyone stop scrolling long enough to pick up a book? People have busy lives full of work and family. Their leisure time needs to include exercise and movement if they want to stay healthy. So, is there any point to writing your book? Will there be anybody interested in reading it?

The short answer is yes. Yes, people are reading in their free time even with all of the other options available to them. In fact, the number of people reading is increasing. And there are statistics to back this up. 

I have collected together all the information and statistics below that prove how beneficial reading is and why you need to write your book. I have included all of the links as well if you want to read more.

Are people still reading books?

Yes, more and more people are reading books. The number of book sales is increasing all the time. This is for both print, audiobook and digital formats.

Even when you take into account the amount of educational books and textbooks there are still more people reading for pleasure. 

In fact, younger people are reading as a hobby more than older people. This infographic has some interesting facts about reading through the different generations. Both of these age groups have the potential for similar amounts of free time, yet teenagers are reading more.

At the moment, millennials (26 – 40 year olds) are reading the most but the next generation growing up, gen z, will possibly end up reading more than the millennials. 

Most people still prefer print books for reading but interestingly more people choose to read the news from a screen instead of buying newspapers. One thing is clear though, more and more people are reading as a hobby. 

When we separate the statistics between fiction and non-fiction in America we see that adult fiction rose 6% while nonfiction only increased by 4.3% in 2021. This is a clear indication of how much people are doing more reading as a hobby when they have more free time.

The largest increase is the sales of graphic novels. Possibly related to the increased number of teenagers that are reading, the sales of graphic novels rose by 29% in 2020. 

The global book market is expected to grow from $92.68 billion in 2021 to $124.2 billion in 2025. So, there is still a profit being made from book sales. There was a dip in 2010 and 2015 but the industry has been growing ever since. I have noticed that anybody talking about the end of reading as a hobby is referencing these dips. There have been many changes to how people like to buy their books but whether people are choosing digital or paper they are still reading.

Print books currently outsell e books 4 to 1.

Positive Benefits of Reading books

Books can be a great introduction to new ways of thinking. For the length of the book, an author can explain the reasoning behind their methods. They can share examples and provide context.

We can learn about different experiences or read more about other people who share our experiences. Whether that is in career, lifestyle choices or traumatic experiences books are a way to understand. This understanding helps us to develop compassion and empathy. This study measured activity in different areas of the brain and found that fiction that explored the inner lives of characters showed increased activity in MRI scans.

Reading fiction that explores the inner lives of characters helps to develop increased empathy. People that read these types of books show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others.

For a long time, the only way to learn about other countries and cultures was through books. While films and television can show us visually, books are able to give further insight into individual experiences.

Reading can also make you feel less alone. Especially, when the author is writing about something they have personally experienced themselves. Whether that is talking about their experiences with trauma or discrimination reading about what someone else went through can help you.

Reading can help you figure yourself out by which characters you identify with. And when you look at the books that you like you can figure out what is important to you.

One of the biggest benefits, I think, is that when people are doing something they love and enjoy, e.g. reading books, they are happy. Happiness is contagious, so the more people are happy the more happiness there is in the world.

But these are only some of the benefits of reading books. The most fascinating advantages to reading are how much reading can help our mental health.

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How can reading as a hobby reduce stress levels?

There are many health benefits to reading books but my favourite is that reading reduces stress by 68% more than walking or listening to music.

Now, movement is still important for our physical health but when it’s raining outside you can help your mental health by curling up with a book. Just 30 minutes of reading can reduce stress levels as effectively as 30 minutes of yoga. This study was performed on medical students. They have busy schedules that are packed with intensive studying and an expectation that they have very little leisure time. So, even if you feel your stress levels are really high and you feel like you don’t have any time to spend reading, know that you only need to read for a short time to see the results. 

Reading for pleasure is good for relaxation as it helps you escape from the stresses and worries of the world. Reading fiction can help you to escape your own world and reduce feelings of isolation and estrangement. And non-fiction books can help you learn how to manage stress, depression and anxiety.

Reading before bed can help improve your quality of sleep. Sleep makes everything easier to cope with. Although I am guilty of getting less sleep because I had to keep reading to see what happened next. And then I have to keep reading to see how it ends.

Benefits of reading for pleasure to improve brain power

I was really surprised by this benefit of reading. Reading makes you smarter and increases your brainpower. It is a mental activity that requires your brain to engage. Even when you are reading page-turning fiction and it doesn’t feel like it, you are still giving your brain a workout.

Studies have been done using MRI scans to measure the effects of reading. While there was an increase in brain activity while the participants were reading, the increased brain activity continued even after the participants had finished reading the book.

According to many studies, keeping your brain active reduces the risk of Alzheimers. Lifelong readers also have lower levels of Alzheimers than their peers. I love that something that is enjoyable can have so many benefits.

Reading as a hobby can help you live longer. If you read for 3 hrs 30 minutes every day you are 23% more likely to live longer than people who don’t read at all. I don’t know if I would be able to fit in this amount of reading every day but I like it as a goal to aim towards!

Reading improves your capacity for memory. We are used to physical workouts making our muscles stronger and increasing our fitness levels. So, if reading is a workout for our brains then it makes total sense that it helps our brains better at storing information.

Images of printable wall art for book lovers.
Click here to find out more about the wall art available in my Etsy shop.

Reading benefits the whole family

Anybody with children in school will know that it is important for children to be able to read. But when there are so many other things that have to be squeezed into the day, it can be hard to find time for reading. getting children to read is not always a priority.

But when parents are reading for pleasure they are also encouraging children to read. Without saying a word, if children see the adults around them reading it increases their chances of picking up a book themselves. So, if you are writing books for adults, not only are you helping the person reading your book, you are also influencing the next generation of readers. 

Reading as a hobby can help younger children improve their performance at school. It can also reduce their anxiety about reading in school if it is an activity that happens regularly at home. Graphic novels are a great introduction to reading longer books. When there are pictures to help make sense of the words, longer words and complicated concepts are less intimidating.

In our house, Dav Pilkey’s Dogman series are constantly being re-read. The language is fun which encourages my children to attempt to read the longer words because that is often where the joke is. I really like how a lot of the books are based on classics such as Jack London’s Call of the Wild. Reading for pleasure with my children is always a nicer way to spend time together compared to doing homework.  

Increased vocabulary is a benefit of reading that makes a lot of sense. After all, when you are reading more words it becomes easier to use those words. The added benefit of reading those words in a book is that you learn the new words in context. We learn how and when to use them as well as the new word. 

Is digital or print better when you are reading as a hobby?

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ or ‘less-worthy’ book. There is no benefit to be gained by placing a value on books according to genre, age or reputation. I have included here about how my feelings about fantasy being less worthy than literature slowed down my writing. So, I also don’t think there is any benefit to be gained about putting a value on digital or print books. Both are worthy of consumption and both have their place. 

It has been interesting in doing the research for this blog how many articles celebrated the higher sales of print books which suggests that some people are feeling threatened by the change from print to digital.

As humans we enjoy stories. Whether they are films, books, audio etc. That is not going to change and from the statistics it looks like it is only going to increase.

We can hit a wall of despair as we are writing our books and feel like the world doesn’t need any more books, especially our books. This period of questioning everything is a normal part of the writing process that every writer experiences.

Action steps for Benefits of Reading as a Hobby

Look at how often you have time for reading.

Is there anywhere you could fit in more reading time? (reading with children counts as reading time)

Is there any book that you have been thinking about reading but have been putting off?

Have you been reading out of obligation or have you been reading for pleasure?

More reading to help you get into the frame of mind for writing

An unexpected way to improve your writing

You are ready to start writing now: here is why and how

How understanding your fears helps your writing

How to overcome your fears around writing

Getting rid of the mindset that prevents you from writing

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