From Nathan Bransford:
Can reading make you happier? The New Yorker has an awesome article about bibliotherapy and the extent to which books can improve happiness. This isn’t an opinion, it’s science. Studies have shown that reading activates the same regions of the brain as if the reader were experiencing those activities, people who read fiction are better at empathizing with other people, and people who read literary fiction are better able to guess what other people might be thinking or feeling.
But wait, there’s more:
Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.
Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford