Why do Americans like romance novels

Writing works

Do you want to live your best life and that's why you read non-fiction books diligently to learn new skills and strategies for success? Well meant, but your personality development threatens to get into trouble. Because scientific research shows: novels are more beneficial for personal development than many non-fiction books.

Reading nonfiction is great on one condition

Many of my friends, people who want to develop themselves, only read or listen to non-fiction books. Just like me for many years. I haven't read any novels at all for 10 years. "How does this help me? I want to know, I want to read something that has an impact on my life, ”I sounded something like that. I have returned to reading fiction for a while. Don't get me wrong: Nonfiction books are a great way to acquire and internalize new knowledge and thinking. But if you only read non-fiction books, you are doing your personality development no favors! It foregoes many of the positive effects that regular novelists benefit from.

How reading novels regularly will benefit your personal development

There are many reasons to read novels more often. In this article I want to introduce you to the benefits that have been scientifically researched. Because if you are interested in personal development and have so far belonged to the non-fiction faction, like I was some time ago, then facts are very attractive. Nevertheless, I recommend that you just do your own research. Experiment and see for yourself what effects you notice on yourself. Here's what scientists have found out so far ...

1. You develop empathy

Those who read regularly improve their ability to empathize with others, to perceive other people's thoughts and feelings, and to respond appropriately to them. The Canadian psychologist Raymond Mar carried out a study on this, and David Kidd and Emanuele Castano also come to the same conclusion in their study. Ever since Daniel Goleman's bestseller on emotional intelligence, it has been undisputed that empathy is essential to lead a successful and contented life. How we manage to navigate interpersonal relationships is a crucial skill that everyone can and should cultivate. Out of self-interest - and not least because those around you are happy about a compassionate person.

2. You lower your stress level

We all long for time off, and in order to perform at our best, we urgently need breaks. But switching off is not always easy. Sometimes I don't want to meditate or I don't make it to the yoga class. But read a few chapters in a crime thriller? Yes, definitely. And we don't have to read long to really switch off. The US neuropsychologist David Lewis found that just 6 minutes a day are enough to achieve a stress-reducing effect. The muscle tension of the study participants already decreased by 68% after the short time. Reading was thus more effective than other relaxation methods such as walking or listening to music. Reading leads to an altered state of consciousness and is more than just a distraction: “This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness. "

3. The quality of your relationships increases

Those who read novels enjoy better relationships. This effect is closely related to the improved empathy. If you manage to take the perspective of others, you can act more understandingly and resolve conflicts better or prevent them from arising in the first place. At the same time, reading novels enables you to immerse yourself in other lives and to put them on on a trial basis. It helps to accept the change that life brings with it. The US professor Keith Oatley therefore calls reading fiction a simulation of reality:

“Fiction is a particularly useful simulation because negotiating the social world effectively is extremely tricky, requiring us to weigh up myriad interacting instances of cause and effect. Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life. "

4. You reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's later

Use it or loose it, say the Americans. Studies confirm that people who regularly do mentally challenging activities such as reading or playing chess become more mentally fitter and have better memories as they get older. If you challenge your brain, you help it to form new brain cells and to expand and maintain the interconnectedness of the cells. A large study by Robert S. Wilson of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago shows that regular reading reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's. You should start as early as possible if you still want to be mentally fit in old age, because the participants who were mentally active in childhood and adolescence performed best, but also outperformed the subjects who regularly trained mentally in old age those who only irregularly challenged themselves mentally. Bottom line: It would be best to start reading and writing more today so that you can enjoy your life in your full mind longer.

Robert S. Wilson: "Based on this, we shouldn't underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents. [...] Read more books, write more, and do activities that keep your brain busy irrespective of your age. "

5. You train your communication skills

You can't not communicate, as the Austrian-American communication scientist Paul Watzlawick already knew. A classic. Instead of investing your hard-earned money in expensive rhetoric and communication courses, make yourself comfortable on the couch with a new book more often. Because one key to effective communication is to understand the other person and to be able to express your own feelings and thoughts. Novels help achieve just that.

A study by Emory University from 2013 found that the areas in the brain that are responsible for understanding others are most activated on the day of reading, but an effect of reading a novel can be demonstrated up to five days afterwards. The fact that reading expands vocabulary and linguistic expression is nothing new. However, it is surprising that readers of fiction do significantly better than readers of non-fiction books.

6. You promote your creative thinking

Unlike many films, books don't always have a simple happy ending. They are often more layered, more complex, less black and white. And thus closer to life. This openness that novels contain is the perfect breeding ground for creativity. We can envision further developments, fill in the gaps ourselves that the novel leaves. A study by the University of Toronto suggests that people who read novels are more likely to deal with contradictions and uncertainties, and tend to be more creative too.

7. You get happier

The eternal search for a happy life could end before the next book shelf. It has been scientifically well researched that reading novels can help people overcome crises and illnesses. Bibliotherapy deals with why this is so and how we can use it. So there are therapists who will prescribe a suitable book for your problems (usually to support classical psychotherapy). Unfortunately, this form of life counseling is not yet widespread in Germany. I would like to try it out. A British study, for example, shows that reading also works according to one's own mood: 76% of the participants said that reading novels improves their lives and makes them happier. I can only confirm that and I invite you to try it out for yourself.


Could I pique your fact and results mind about what would happen if you regularly lay on the couch or on the beach with a novel? I could have cited many more studies and given a few more reasons. But I find the 7 reasons very convincing to start with. Writing the article motivated me once again to really take time off from novels on a regular basis.

What reasons would you add? Do you know of other studies that have looked at the effects of reading novels? Feel free to write to me in the comments. I am always happy when I can scientifically legitimize habits that are good for me :).