The positive effects of slow reading

Sometimes it seems hard to pay proper attention to what we read. ‘Slow reading’ can help you focus on the words in front of you. 

Meg Williams, a literature researcher from New Zealand, believes that a return to slow reading makes people more balanced and happier, and she’s not the only one who feels this. According to a study done at the University of Sussex, UK, in 2009, reading is one of the simplest ways to relax your mind and body. Even as soon as six minutes into reading a novel, your heartbeat goes down and your muscles relax. Reading has even more effect than listening to music, drinking tea or taking a walk.

Ralph Radach, a German psychologist, says it’s not only the peacefulness and relative effortlessness of reading that helps you relax. One of the most important benefits of reading is that you dive into a different world and connect to fictional characters. “If it’s a good book, the main characters become virtual friends of yours,” he says. “And it’s just plain good for you to spend time with them tucked up on the couch.” So whether it’s following our favorite detective as they solve one murder mystery after another, or joining Harry Potter on his journey to Hogwarts book after book, familiar characters make us feel good; we feel like we know what to expect and we can count on them.

  • You can read more about slow reading in Issue 20.

Text Anne Otto Photography Shutterstock