I Got a Fever and the Only Prescription Is More Reading: Proven Reading Benefits

Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

If you have ever wondered whether you’re reading enough, you probably are not. You are reading this, sure, but what are you going to do after you finish? If you answered anything except “read,” you’re not reading enough. Don’t feel bad: most people surveyed also did not answer “read.” Which is a shame, but understandable given that so few people know the many benefits of reading. You might be thinking to yourself: how much reading would be enough reading? You’re asking the wrong question. Much like, let’s say, eating vegetables, there’s no such thing as too much when it comes to reading. The more you read, the greater the health benefits. Think of it like carrots. The worst thing that could happen is you turn orange. To give you an idea of what improvements you can expect to see in accordance with how much you read, here are some examples of reading benefits.

Reading for 20 minutes every evening will improve your sex life

The art of reading aloud is so often neglected. Reading sex scenes to your partner or even to potential mates, on a first date, for example, will improve your existing relationships and ignite those on the horizon. Take it a step further and try role playing. You may need to wait a few weeks for the Walt Whitman beard to grow in.

Reading for one hour every afternoon will improve your cardiac health

There is some debate about what is the ideal amount of exercise to achieve maximum health benefits. 450 minutes per week has been suggested as the “sweet spot.” That is exactly seven and a half hours. Eat, Pray, Love takes 7.22 hours to read and my heart was racing the entire time. (There is just so much pressure to “have it all!!”) You could also try thrillers. Read whatever gets your heart racing, just don’t let it be said that you can’t practice cardio from the couch.

Reading for two hours every morning will improve your reflexes

Anyone who has ever read The Scarlet Letter understands the way literature can fully engross you, leave you on the edge of your seat. Grasping around blindly for your coffee mug while navigating the dynamic between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale will almost certainly cause you to knock over the mug, requiring deft coordination to catch it without missing a single meaningful glance between them.

Reading for three hours in the middle of the night will improve your sleep

We’re all familiar with the frustration of not sleeping well. Tossing, turning, hoping to drift off only to stay up counting the number of episodes our roommate auto plays of The Office. Instead of trying in vain to sleep, commit to reading for three hours in the middle of the night. 12-3 am is a good start. In that way, you will never have trouble sleeping again. Sitting in a boring meeting? You will drift off like a Prius on ice! Driving cross-country with your brother? The hum of the car plus the three state-long description of his new smart watch will lull you to sleep in minutes, nay seconds! Guaranteed: reading Ulysses diligently for three hours every night will mean you’ll never struggle to sleep again.

Reading for six hours every night before bed will improve your social anxiety

You know how these days we all feel crippling anxiety about being left out of social plans (“FOMO”)? Have you ever gotten to Friday evening with no plans on the horizon and stared at your phone for six hours straight wondering why no one is texting and whether anyone would even notice if you moved to Peru? Well, if you make it a habit to read for six hours before bed every single day, you will not only save your eyes a world of trouble by not looking at the damaging light of your phone, your friends will definitely stop bothering to invite you to things. In this way, you can transcend any anxiety wondering whether or not they will call. They definitely will not.

Are you convinced yet? By simply incorporating these 12 hours and 20 minutes’ worth of reading into your daily schedule, you will see benefits that are literally immeasurable. And that’s just a start! Work your way up and the benefits will just keep on coming–you may even live forever! To get you started, here is a list of recommended books. Consider it your prescription.

Editor’s note: there probably actually are health benefits of reading. These are not them.