As an obsessive reader, I love the feel and and heft of a real book. Yeah, they have their drawbacks. Books take up a lot of space. Moving apartments becomes an ordeal. Bringing enough books to entertain me for a long flight requires a sturdy carryon bag and an arm workout. But I think it’s worth it.
I was excited to see this article outlining the many, many benefits of reading a physical book as opposed to an electronic text. Some of them were not surprising:
- Reading a physical book improves comprehension and memory of what you’ve read. You might find when taking a test or trying to find a reference that you recall the physical location of information in a book (it was on the lower left-hand page around halfway through the book . . .). In fact, researchers suggest that bringing in the additional sense of touch enhances memory for what you’ve read.
- Physical books help exercise your cognitive capabilities. People read differently on the web than they do with a physical text. The way people read in a physical book encourages deeper processing and more complicated skills like reading literary sentences, versus bulleted lists.
Other benefits of physical books did surprise me, at least at first:
- Reading physical books boosts empathy. It makes sense that reading novels helps increase empathy; the act of absorbing oneself in a story is essentially taking the perspective of someone else, which has been shown to increase empathy. This effect is increased by reading a physical book versus a digital one.
- Physical books help people sleep better. I knew that screen reading isn’t good before bed because the artificial light disrupts circadian rhythms, but it seems the book also creates a psychologically different pre-bed experience that aids sleep.
I’ll admit, I like the Kindle more than I expected to, but 99.9% of the time I still read a real book. Science has my back.