At Book of the Month we believe in the power of great books. And we're not just talking about nonfiction, novels, the classics, or Shakespeare. Our credo is that reading books of all genres can greatly enhance your life, and we aim to introduce readers to some of the best of the moment. As it turns out, there are numerous studies that support the belief that reading can improve many aspects of your life. From reduced stress to enhanced emotional intelligence, here are a few of the reasons to embrace a book.

Books Enhance Readers' Emotional Intelligence and Empathy for Others

Reading about new characters, places, and situations, puts you, as the reader, into someone else's shoes. The ability to see through the eyes of another individual, even if it's a fictional character in a fictional situation, has real life implications. In a 2013 study for Science Magazine, social psychologists found that reading literary fiction, or narratives that focus on subjects' inner feelings and thoughts, improves 'Theory of Mind.' Theory of Mind is the ability to navigate complex social relationships and is measured by tests of empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence. After just a few minutes of reading, participants who read literary fiction were better able to identify the emotions of subjects presented to them than those who had read other genres or had read nothing at all.

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Books are the Ultimate Stress Reducer

Many excuses for not reading center around not having enough time. Instead of thinking about reading as a source of stress, think about it as a stress reliever. In a 2009 University of Sussex study commissioned by consultancy Mindlab International, researchers found that reading a book for just six minutes reduced stress in participants, as measured by a slower heart rate and less tension in the muscles. The researchers commented, "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."

Having Books on Your Shelves Might Make Your Kids Smarter

In a 2014 study, the sociologists at Social Forces concluded that the number of books in a home has a strong influence on children's academic performance. The researchers behind the study found this to be true across 42 nations, and even after controlling for factors like parents' education, parents' occupation, and family wealth. They found that gains in academic performance are larger at the bottom - meaning that building a library from 5 to 10 books will have a greater impact than adding a 100th book. Thus, enjoying books which can then fill your shelves doesn't just impact you - it can have a positive impact on those young minds in your home. For more on the study, listen to our interview with the researcher behind the work, Dr. Mariah Evans.

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Reading Books is Fun!

Aside from the scientific evidence mentioned above and the well-documented research found across the web, we believe that the most important benefit of reading is that it's fun. As Whoopi Goldberg so eloquently, put it, reading allows you to 'sit on the can and be on the moon at the same time.' Whether you use reading to teach you something new, to escape the stresses of the world, or just to hear a good story, there's no denying that reading is enjoyable.

We hope we've given you enough reasons to sit down with a good book. For more reading inspiration, or to share the gift of reading, sign up here.