Did you know more and more of us are turning back to books as a means of relaxing our minds and improving our emotional intelligence?
Books have been our companions for centuries. They are magical worlds you can get lost in, instructional guides to expand the mind, a place for peace and solace during hard times, and sometimes just a really great laugh.
The benefits of reading have been studied by experts for generations. Books have been found to increase our emotional intelligence, stimulate our neural pathways and improve both our confidence and our self-esteem.
Granted, not as many of us these days read as much as we used to. Smartphones, computer screens and the business of everyday life has seen a reduction in reading – and drop in reading standards – over the years.
What’s more, paper book sales began to fall away as e-readers such as the Kindle entered the marketplace.
But that doesn’t mean to say books are gone for good. In fact, quite the opposite! Over the past few years people have been putting down their phones, leaving their Kindles and e-readers behind, and picking up paper books.
Why has this happened? Well, read on to find out…
The benefits of reading are wide-ranging and can help with mental wellbeing and creativity
Kindle vs Book: The Latest Trends
When Amazon released its first Kindle more than a decade ago, it was supposedly going to revolutionise how we read. Some believed e-readers would be the end of the paper book industry as we knew it.
And in many ways e-readers have transformed our reading habits for the better. Kindles provide a much more comfortable experience than, say, reading a novel on your phone or computer. They and other e-readers are often light in weight, versatile and have a long battery life. They are more similar to books than they are computers.
But in recent years we’ve begun seeing a trend change in British readers. UK book sales in 2021 were the highest for a decade at 212 million. The coronavirus pandemic, technology fatigue and the desire to feel something ‘real’ when reading all contributed not only to increases in reading activity, but spikes in book sales too.
“One thing we can be certain about: books are most definitely not a pandemic fad and have proved their lasting power time and again,” Nielsen’s Jackie Swope recently told The Guardian.
More people are enjoying a good Kindle or book these days, and those who were already avid readers are pouring through the pages at an even faster rate.
E-readers aren’t going away. After all, annual download sales tip £1 billion for publishers in the UK alone. But their ownership has dwindled from a high point in 2015, when 31% of Brits regularly used them.
Why People Are Turning Back To Books
The feel of paper between your fingers as you lazily turn the page on a long Sunday afternoon is what booksellers want you to imagine when you buy the next bestseller. Sadly, we don’t always have the time and space to read at leisure during the day.
But a heightened trend in book sales and reading in general has accompanied a greater sense of wellbeing across the UK.
In recent years we have become more attuned with our bodies and its needs. More of us are looking up from our smartphones and enjoying the non-virtual world again. We are finding time to practice yoga and pilates, cook healthier food and relax in the evenings.
Many of us now read in bed – not only to enjoy an evening story but also to keep away from our phones. It has been found that reading before bed can help accelerate your journey to sleep, while the blue light in smartphones does the opposite.
Kindles don’t emit blue light but sales are dwindling. Other reasons people are turning back to books include:
Social media marketing
Book publishers these days are far better at advertising their latest releases on social media than in the past. Modern designs, targeted marketing and ad campaigns have helped get the word out there. That’s why books like Girl, Women, Other have got the recognition they deserve and have become such a big hit.
More books are being made into films
TV and film producers are increasingly buying the script rights to bestselling novels. It makes sense: why spend time writing your own storyline when a novelist will do it for you? The increased awareness in these stories from film culture contributes to spikes in book sales. The bestselling book Girl on a Train continues to sell thousands of copies following the Hollywood adaptation in 2016.
Many of us are becoming more mindful as we seek to relax, renew and then resume following the coronavirus pandemic. And book sales about the mind, body and spirit increased 50% during lockdown. Mindfulness books like This Book Could Help and Total Meditation are perfect for guiding you through stressful periods of your life, and helping you to understand your mind and body once more.
It’s a lot easier to lend a book than an e-reader. Now more than ever people are talking about what great books they’ve read, and the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions means we can begin sharing our favourite stories once again.
Kindles and e-readers are great but eventually technological advancements mean they become obsolete. This is the same with phones, but whereas most of us will simply buy a new phone, replacing an e-reader isn’t considered as necessary. Because of this, people eventually turn back to physical books and remember the feel of paper between their fingers.
The Mental Power Of Books
Our digital-first world can often feel overwhelming. Persistent notifications, text alerts and updates keep us locked to our phones. For many of us, smartphones are now the No 1 means of communicating with our friends and family.
Smartphone addiction is arguably a hidden pandemic across society, and detaching ourselves from our phones – even if it’s just at night – can help our mental wellbeing.
Stories, whether they be from Kindle or physical books, provide an ideal route away from your smartphones. The mental power of books boosts can:
Books boost your brain activity – There’s a reason they call it ‘mindless scrolling’ on your phone. With books, your brain has to remain attentive in order to captures the images leaping from the page. Reading can produce happy and positive thoughts, help detach you from the stresses of day-to-day life, and expand your mind.
Books improve memory – Whether it’s paper books or e-readers, science has shown that regular reading improves memory. It also deepens concentration when you’re doing other tasks – be it work or even when discussing complex issues with your family and friends – and reduces stress.
Books improve empathy – Understanding what other people are going through is an important aspect of communicating with the wider world. And books can help expand your mind and become more empathetic with those around you.
“Reading expands a person’s appreciation toward other life experiences the reader is not personally experiencing, especially when reading topics that are not related to that reader’s job or lifestyle,” says Dr. Wade Fish, Director at Northcentral University’s Graduate School in California.
Best books for wellbeing
If you’re seeking wellbeing books that can help reduce stress, improve mindfulness and guide you through life’s problems, then take a look a these titles available in the Take Good Care shop:
Five Minutes to a Mindful You
This guided self journal will help take you through the stages of mindfulness. Exercises will nourish a sense of inner calm wherever you are.
Journals are ideal companions for mindfulness and the routine of writing and planning our days, our feelings and our actions sets us on the right path to serenity.
How to Relax
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh provides the ultimate guide to achieving deep relaxation, controlling stress, and renewing mental clarity.
With sections on solitude, relief from non-stop thinking, transforming unpleasant sounds, healing, and more, How to Relax will help you achieve the benefits of relaxation.
Man Down: A Guide for Men on Mental Health
Men suffer from mental health issues too – and often they just don’t know it. Man Down offers men the opportunity to consider and discuss issues they might otherwise not recognise: stress, gender expectations, mindfulness and communication.