Can Reading Benefit Your Career? Here's What Researchers Think

open book

Canva

Profile Picture
Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 29, 2024 at 1:4PM UTC

I have a confession to make: I’m a book nerd. 

In elementary and middle school, a fun vacation day for me was heading to the Providence Public Library (Rochambeau branch, for the Rhode Islanders among us) to peruse the shelves and check out a giant stack for the week. I still have nightmares about losing books or forgetting to return them.

My love of reading has persisted into adulthood. I spent the first seven years of my career working in publishing, before pivoting into freelance writing.

And guess what? Reading has plenty of science-backed benefits for your career and beyond! And you, my fellow book nerds, have been reaping them all along.

1. You’re always learning.

Reading means gaining knowledge. You’ll grapple with perspectives. You’ll learn new words. You’ll think and reflect. This is true across genres.

Research also shows that reading, along with other mentally stimulating activities, can help preserve memory and thinking, allowing you to retain information as you get older. This is important for work, where you’re constantly absorbing new information that you need to do your job effectively. 

2. You can make better choices.

We’re faced with making decisions every day, large and small. Many of them are work-related. And guess what? Reading fiction can help you improve your ability to reflect on and make choices, according to research from the University of Toronto. The study finds that readers of fiction have less of a need for “cognitive closure” — essentially meaning they are less likely to make snap decisions.

3. You’ll be less stressed.

Stressed? We all are from time to time, and it takes a toll on our well-being — and, in many cases, our work lives. But there’s some good news: according to research from the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress by as much as 68%. Who couldn’t benefit from that?

4. You may draw better connections.

Being able to build connections, often between seemingly disparate facts and items, is an important part of problem-solving and critical thinking — two skills that all employers seek in employees. And, as you can probably guess, reading allows you to improve this competency, as per the Journal of Developmental Education — your brain will create new, previously unestablished connections.

5. You’ll be more empathetic.

Your ability to relate to and empathize with others will prove an important asset in the workplace. Even if you work remotely in a seemingly solitary profession, chances are, you communicate in various ways regularly, with clients, colleagues, managers and others. Reading, thankfully, makes you more empathetic, allowing you to formulate better connections with those around you. In fact, a study shows that people who read for just 30 minutes per week have greater empathy than those who don't.

6. Many readers are more creative and inspired.

Creativity is important for a wide variety of careers. You’re constantly tasked with brainstorming and innovating. And thanks to reading, you’ll be more inspired and open-minded. One study finds that fiction readers are mentally stimulated and able to think in new and diverse ways — even more so than nonfiction readers. 

Of course, there are many benefits of reading that extend far beyond work, too, from improving your sleep to potentially living longer. Plus, it’s fun! So, go grab your next great book — and enjoy the many rewards for your career and your life.

--

This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

Are you an avid reader and do you think it has benefited your career? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always