Turns out there’s a mountain of proof behind what we’ve always known to be true.

Meghan Overdeep
December 3, 2018
Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

From your mood to your stress level, if you’ve noticed that curling up with a book makes everything seem, well, better, you’re not alone.

The idea that books can improve a person’s emotional well-being goes all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. In fact, a library in Thebes reportedly bore the inscription ‘healing place for the soul’” above its entrance.

By the early 1900s, the word “bibliotherapy” entered our lexicon, which, according to The New Yorker, is a “very broad term for the ancient practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect.”

Today, bibliotherapy takes many forms—including psychological treatment programs—though most people participate in their own personal brand of the practice on their own. And science is only now catching up to what the Ancient Greeks knew all along.

The New Yorker reports that similar studies published in 2006, 2009, and 2011 found that when people read about an experience, they “display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves.” It was also proven that people who read a lot of fiction tend to be better at empathizing with others. Basically, people who read a lot have a better understanding of other people and their experiences, which, among other things, can make life easier and more interesting. Not to mention that kids who grow up in homes filled with books grow up to be smarter.

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As for the day-to-day benefits of reading, one study found that it can reduce stress levels by 68%, and works better and faster than listening to music or going for a walk. While plenty of research has shown that cuddling up with a book before bed improves sleep. Some doctors in the UK even prescribe books to treat depression!

Now, if those aren’t enough reasons to crack open a new book this week, we don’t know what is.

Looking for the perfect book to settle down with? Check out our list of the best books debuting this winter.