5 Proven Health Benefits to Reading (Printed) Books

Did you know that it's healthy to read real books?

There’s nothing like curling up in the evening with a good book, maybe even a glass of wine in hand and getting lost in an exciting thriller or an interesting biography, anything that allows you to escape the busyness of the day even for just half an hour.

But did you know that it is actually healthy to read?

It’s true!

When talking about the health benefits of reading, however, we are talking about the old-fashioned and trustworthy page-turners that are printed books.

Although many people own e-readers nowadays, not to mention that many of us opt for them for convenience whilst travelling or to save some space and build a library that doesn’t take up masses of room, you just don’t get to really reap the health benefits (or joy!) that you get from reading real books.

A girl reading a book in front of her laptop

To show you why you need to be reaching for your printed copies rather than your digital e-reader next time you wish to read, here are 5 proven health benefits to reading printed books.

Reading printed books…

1. Makes you smarter

We all know that reading makes us smarter (remember calling the smart kids ‘bookworms?’) as the more we read the more we’ll learn. What many people don’t realise, however, is that we tend to learn more new vocabulary from printed books. Why? Because we digest what we are reading much more when reading from paper and we remember it.

As well as increasing intelligence, reading printed books also exercises your brain power, improving your memory and brain function in later life. Keep my brain sharp in my old age? Yes, please!

A pair of glasses on top of a pile of books

2. Increases comprehension

Who knew that flipping pages could increase comprehension? Although, when you think about it, it does make complete sense as our memory is triggered by our senses; our sense of smell, our visual surroundings, sounds, and touch.

When reading a real book, the feel of the paper pages under our fingertips provides our brains with some context, as does the smell of the ink and the sound of the pages turning; this together with the time it takes to turn each page leads to a deeper understanding and better comprehension of the subject that we are reading about.

Close up of a man reading a book

If you’ve ever had to read a whole block of text on a screen again because you’ve skim-read and haven’t understood it, you know exactly what we mean. Lack of focus and skim-reading are a byproduct of e-readers and computers as our brains try to pick out only the important information, and that’s not even mentioning the number of distractions that we get from our screens; notifications, emails, texts…no more!

Did you hear?? Printed book sales are increasing above e-readers! Last year’s book sales figures show an rise in print and decline in digital sales for two years running.

Read: Book Sales Rise as We Rekindle Our Love Affair with Print

3. Can make you more empathetic

When properly digesting and comprehending what you are reading (because you are reading printed books, see point 2), when it comes to fiction especially, reading can help you relate to others. From understanding what others are thinking by reading their emotions, we can improve this life skill that is needed in all social situations and our own relationships in real life.

If you’re not sure what we mean, then think about an Olympic athlete preparing for their event. Let’s say they are competing in the long jump. In order to perform their best, athletes say that they visualise themselves going through the motions of the event (in this case, running and pumping their arms to gain speed before the hop, skip, and the jump) because this “mental rehearsal” activates the motor cortex in the brain and muscle memory before the real thing.

a book with pages forming a heart

It’s the same with reading. When reading about people and emotions and life experiences, the sensory and emotional regions in the brain activate (like they would in real life) which improves the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes.

4. Reduces stress

Only with printed books can we completely immerse ourselves in a thoroughly engrossing story; there are no distractions, our minds are focused and engaged for longer, so they can work as serious stress-relievers. In fact, studies have shown that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%!

So next time you are stressed and you really don’t feel like reading, think about how this will actually ease that stress and pick up that printed copy to escape from your everyday woes.

A woman reading on a wall with a body of water in the background

5. Helps you to sleep better and for longer

In this technological age, we are all guilty of taking our phones to bed and wondering why we are so tired waking up in the morning, but with a real book, you won’t get this problem.

Bright lights from e-readers and tablets signal to the brain that it’s time to wake up, leading to you taking longer to initially get to sleep and having a disrupted sleep thereafter. If you love to read and you love to sleep, reap the health benefits from real books and wind down properly in the evenings for some decent shut-eye.

Related: Print is Not Dead, it was Only Sleeping

A book upside down on a bed

People engage with Print, so make sure that yours is engaging them in the first place…

As we specialise in the print of both paperbacks and hardbacks at Xpedient BookPrint, we can help you with the whole process of publishing your book. Whether you’re a publisher or self-publisher, we can help you decide on the most cost-effective, project-specific solution. Long run or short run with production in the UK and overseas, we can support your needs within budget and exceed your quality expectations.


Let us know if you have any questions…