While reading might be a more infrequent hobby than it used to be thanks to the popularity of the smartphone, it might actually be the vital thing that’s missing from your day-to-day routine. According to a recent study entitled A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity, scientists examined the effect between reading regularly and living longer. As it turns out, people who frequently pick up a book and spend at least half an hour a day reading live longer than people who don’t.
The experiment was conducted on elderly readers and non-readers, with readers reporting either above or below three and a half hours a week spent with a good book. Remarkably, the readers lived 23 months longer on average. The reason lies with cognitive engagement – reading is a meditative and immersive experience that keeps those brain synapses firing as your mind makes connections to what you’re reading and what you’ve personally experienced. It is a training mechanism that not only enhances brain function, but also increases longevity.
Willing to give this a shot? Forget miracle pills and radical solutions for a longer life, and try picking up a fantastic read instead. Here are five suggestions to get you started.
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
This 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning book feels like it’s destined to be a major motion picture, which is probably why celebrities such as Sofia Vergara have been flocking to it. All the Light We Cannot See might be set during World War II, but it’s not “another war book”. Instead, this beautifully written novel uses alternating narration to capture the tale of two characters on either side of the war who are fated to cross paths.
What critics love about this book is that it’s less about the plot, and more about the remarkable way that author Anthony Doerr creates such gripping, idiosyncratic characters with his mesmerizing prose. We promise this one won’t disappoint.
Buy it here.
by Patti Smith
If you’re looking for a thrilling murder mystery with a plot that twists more than a German pretzel, skip this book. However, if you’re looking to be drawn into the singular, private world of one of the most brilliant poets and musicians, you won’t be able to put this one down.
Patti Smith, the legendary rock goddess who lived with Robert Mapplethorpe in the 1970s and was as famous as her peers in The Velvet Underground, pens a novel about nothing. A follow-up to her smash hit Just Kids, it draws you into her weirdly wonderful world where she confronts dream cowboys, remembers the beautiful soul of her late husband, and takes us on an intimate tour of her mind with all its genius. Pure, glimmering prose seeps from every line of this book, which is why we highly recommend this for lovers of poetry.
Buy it here.
You Are a Bad*ss: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
by Jen Sincero
Self-help books are a necessary part of self-care, but they can also come off as a bit preachy. However, this brilliant book feels like it was written by your wise and generous best friend or older sister. The fact that it’s written by an author with the last name “Sincero” only serves our point.
It bypasses all of the typical self-help mumbo jumbo, and gets straight to the point with feisty advice that pinpoints exactly what is holding you back and how to break free from the cycle of excuses and self-doubt. You will love the honest, earnest humor of this easy-to-read book, but more importantly, you will find new tools for building a better life.
Buy it here.
The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History
by Robin Givhan
Glamazonian models, high-octane fashion shows, glittering gowns, and gobs of money – it seems only natural that the fashion industry and its fast pace would include some majorly dramatic moments. In The Battle of Versailles, veteran fashion journalist Robin Givhan transports you back to the year 1973 when five of France’s most famed couturiers faced off against their American competition, marking a massive turning point in fashion history.
With the casting of black models on the runway for the first time and the showing of remarkable collections, the US established itself as a fashion force, and the French reacted in surprising ways. Buy the book for the delicious fashion gossip and stay for the revelatory moments during which legends were made.
Buy it here.
The Light Between Oceans
by M.L. Stedman
This heartbreaking drama-turned-Hollywood-film is not only one of the best historical novels you’ll ever read, but it also casts a seductive spell that will have you returning to the book time and time again. The Light Between Oceans is a captivating morality play that tells the story of a lighthouse keeper (played by Michael Fassbender in the 2016 film adaptation), his young wife (played by Alicia Vikander), and the life-changing decision they must make when a boat carrying a dead man and a live infant washes ashore. Keep a box of tissues nearby – this one’s a tearjerker.
Buy it here.