Research released today has revealed the remarkable and often untold benefits books can have on our everyday lives, yet over a quarter (27%) of the population has expressed concerns that reading could become a forgotten pleasure.
Commissioned by GALAXY® chocolate on behalf of our Quick Reads initiative, which produces short books by well-known authors for busy people and less confident readers, the report reveals that regular reading has the unique ability to empower us to embark on positive journeys in life, connect us with others and make us feel happier in our own skin. This year, the campaigner for education Malala leads the line-up of authors, shining a light on how reading can empower us all.
Inspiring readers to make positive changes
The research, produced in partnership with Dr. Josie Billington at The University of Liverpool, has shown that books can provide the fundamental confidence we need to pursue our goals and make big life decisions:
- 27% of the population have been inspired to make a positive change in their life from reading such as look for a new job or end a bad relationship
- 36% of the population have been inspired to go travelling by a book
The study also revealed that reading has inspired us to make other positive changes in our lives:
- A fifth of the nation has been motivated to take better care of their health by reading a book
- 19% of adults say books have given them the impetus they need to take up a new hobby
The study has also revealed that books lead to a more tolerant and empathetic society. As many as half of UK adults say that reading makes them more sympathetic to other people's beliefs, whilst 17% of readers report that books have inspired them to remain calm during a disagreement, compared to just 5% of those who never read.
The transformational power of books
Bestselling authors including Jojo Moyes, Andy McNab, Ann Cleeves, and Sophie Hannah are joining forces to share their love of reading and encourage the nation to pick up a book and experience the fundamental pleasures and benefits it brings.
Andy McNab commented:
"Every time you read a book you get a bit of knowledge, every time you get a bit of knowledge you get a bit more power. I have struggled with and overcome challenges with literacy in my life and experienced first hand the transformational power of books. I urge anyone who does not read for pleasure to pick up a book and reap the rewards of reading."
A third (35%) of the population admits that they would like to read more but are often distracted by using their phone or watching TV. However, highlighting the profound and significant effect that a good book can have on our overall contentment and fulfilment, the research revealed that over a third (38%) of the nation chooses reading as their ultimate stress remedy. What is more, reading is proven to be a greater comfort to us than some more obvious go-to solutions:
- 35% of participants revealed that books are most likely to bring them comfort when they are feeling down, versus 31% who choose a glass of wine and 10% who choose a hot bath
- 41% of adults even find reading to be a better cure for their everyday worries than a night out with friends
The nation may also find it heartening to learn that the research found the lovably flawed Bridget Jones to be the literary character most women could identify with - with 1 in 10 respondents also agreeing that reading comforts them by showing it is okay to be flawed. In fact, the research showed that we prefer to read about someone who makes mistakes (23%) and is funny (20%) more than we value a character who is brave (19%), loyal (17%), or kind (11%).
"Books can change people's lives"
In this, the tenth anniversary year of Quick Reads, founder Baroness Gail Rebuck, DBE comments:
"I consider reading to not only be one of life's greatest pleasures but also a source of empowerment and enrichment. Books can change people's lives. I hope that the benefits highlighted in this report will encourage the one in three adults who never pick up a book to consider how their lives - and their children's - could be enhanced with the simple act of reading."
Emma Thornton, Galaxy® Marketing Director comments:
"It will come as no surprise to many to learn that books can have such a profound effect on our overall happiness and wellbeing. In this, Galaxy's sixth year of partnership with Quick Reads, we wanted to highlight the untold power of reading for pleasure and we hope that this report will encourage everyone to pick up a book and discover that a little bit of what you enjoy can go a long way."
Dr Josie Billington, Deputy Director, Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool adds:
"35% of respondents in our research reported that they would like to spend more time reading, but cite using their phones or watching television as frequent distractions: no wonder there is concern that reading is at risk of becoming a forgotten pleasure. The positive effects that reading can have on society are widely documented and what has been made abundantly clear by this research is that books can help us to enjoy the little things in life, and be happier in ourselves; a useful and timely reminder for all of us to draw on the many benefits that only reading can deliver."
Sue Wilkinson, CEO of The Reading Agency, says:
"At The Reading Agency, we believe that everything changes when we read and Quick Reads are the perfect way to get even those with the busiest schedules back into reading. We hope this research will encourage more people to see the value and benefit of reading, encouraging them to pick up one of these great books and, when they have finished it, be inspired to go to and read all the others on the list and share them with family and friends."
Six new books have been added to the growing Galaxy® Quick Reads series, each aimed at helping adults across the UK rediscover the pleasure of reading.
Read the full report
Galaxy® Quick Reads are bite-sized books written by best-selling authors which cost only £1. You can now borrow them from libraries across the country, or find them at your local bookshop. Find out more
Find out about our other programmes for adults