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How Reading Can Make You Happier and Smarter

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As collegiettes, we know all about the ever-daunting burden of being saddled with a 400-page book that we must read and annotate by the end of the week—a task that often makes us cringe at the sound of each novel assignment. However, as Her Campus readers and writers, we also know about the power of words and the sparks of both knowledge and entertainment that words can inflict. That’s why, according to Refinery29, reading can be the epitome of rest and relaxation.

Bibliotherapy, or reading for the soul, is a little known way to induce happiness and pleasure for one’s own well-being. The finesse of bibliotherapy arises from Ancient Greece, as “inscribed above the entrance to a library in Thebes that this was a ‘healing place for the soul'" said bibliotherapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin in a report with The New Yorker. So how do we use reading to our advantage? That’s the art of bibliotherapy! It’s up to the reader, whether through assigned reading from a psychologist or in a group setting. But, one of the more effective manners of bibliotherapeutic reading is “affective” bibliotherapy, which demonstrates the power of fiction novels and books.

The power of “affective” bibliotherapy also helps one become more perceptive in life, according to University of Toronto cognitive psychology professor Keith Oatley in an interview with The New Yorker. In a new study, “reading literary fiction (rather than popular fiction or literary nonfiction) improved participants’ results on tests that measured social perception and empathy, which are crucial to ‘theory of mind’ : the ability to guess with accuracy what another human being might be thinking or feeling.”

So the next time you have to read that long novel for a class or just for fun, remember that it can be your greatest learning and relaxing tool good for your mind, body and soul.


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