Read a Book, Newspaper, Magazine – Hell, Anything – if You Want to Live Longer

A few chapters a day may keep the mortician away.

Social Science and Medicine has published a new study that reveals that book-lovers live longer lives.

The participants of the study were divided into three groups: those who never read books, those who read books up to three and a half hours a week, and those who read books for more than three and a half hours per week.

The research found that people who read books regularly are more likely to fend off death.


Compared with those who didn’t read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 per cent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up. Furthermore, those who read more than that were 23 per cent less likely to die.

“People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” said the senior author, Becca R Levy, a professor at Yale. As the New York Times reports, book lovers lived on average two years longer than those who did not read at all.

So, who are the biggest bookworms? According to the study, they tend to be female, college-educated and from higher income groups. Researchers therefore controlled for those factors, as well as age, race, self-reported health, depression, employment and marital status.


According to Levy, the same survival advantage remained among users remained after adjusting for wealth, education, cognitive ability and many other variables.

They found a similar but weaker association among those who read newspapers and periodicals.

So, what is it about reading that results in better overall health?

Unfortunately, that’s where the study stops. But I can think of a few potential reasons…

One of the most relaxing state-of-beings are when you’re curled up with a page-turning piece of fiction. The outside world – complete with deadlines, stress and screen-heavy communication – is absent.

For some, a fiction book is almost as therapeutic as meditation.


Last summer, another study revealed that reading both improves relationships and reduces symptoms of depression.

Researchers found that reading for pleasure results in better communication between parents and children, increased self-esteem, reduced anxiety and stress, and a better understanding of other cultures. Other studies have also highlighted the positive effects of reading one one’s mood and on their ability to get a better night’s sleep.

And we all know the health benefits of sleep and no stress.


If you’re suddenly inspired to begin a novel, we suggest checking out Margaret Atwood’s top recommendations for millennials.