How reading fiction makes you smarter & happier

In this podcast (episode #568) and blog, I talk about the many brain benefits of reading fiction! This is a replay of a Neurolive webinar I did on my app. For the full webinar AD-free, please see

Did you know that reading fantasy fiction is a great way to direct the neuroplasticity of your brain (or the brain’s ability to change) in a healthy direction? It can not only increase your creativity and emotional intelligence, but also your actual intelligence!

Intelligence is not fixed. Your brain can and does change, in a neutral, positive or negative direction, all the time—this is called the “plastic paradox”. Your brain is always changing because your mind is always changing because every moment is a new experience. Your mind and brain collaboratively process these experiences (the good, the neutral, and the bad) as changes in the gravitational fields of the mind, and as neuroplastic changes in the structure of the brain. Essentially, neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to adapt and change in response to experiences, learning, and environmental factors. 

And reading fiction is a great way to direct this neuroplasticity to improve your creativity and brainpower. Fiction can offer valuable insights into the concept of neuroplasticity through storytelling, character development, and creativity. It is a fast and efficient way of turbo boosting the brain’s ability to change and heal: 

  • It helps generate healthy waves of balanced energy in the mind, which then sweep through the brain and body, supporting the immune and endocrine systems and the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which can help you better deal with stress and negative circumstances.
  • It can result in changes in gamma, alpha, beta, delta and theta brain waves, which are associated with learning, an optimal state of relaxation and alertness, and bridging between the conscious and nonconscious mind, which can help support peacefulness, readiness, creativity and meditation.

Indeed, reading fiction is so great that if I feel a drop in my creativity or I am getting tired, I will take the time to read (for about 30 minutes to an hour), till I feel my creativity flowing again. 

I truly believe that not only can it increase productivity, but reading fiction is also vital for emotional intelligence and self-regulation because the process of experiencing the fullness of a story is a way of giving us words and ideas to process our own life. Indeed, the character development in stories is an example of personal change and growth that we too can undergo in our own lives. These transformations can parallel the idea of neuroplasticity by showing how individuals can change their beliefs, behaviors, and abilities in response to their experiences and challenges. Additionally, fantasy books also explore characters who overcome incredible challenges or traumatic experiences, which can teach us about the mind and brain's capacity to heal and adapt. 

Reading fiction like fantasy novels (I am a huge fan of Sarah J. Maas!) can also harness our creativity. The brain's ability to generate new ideas and envision fantastical worlds, for example, is an aspect of neuroplasticity, as it involves forming new neural connections and pathways in the brain that help us develop our creativity and intelligence and strengthen the brain.  

Additionally, reading fiction can relax and reenergize the brain. Reading stories and novels takes readers to imaginary worlds filled with magic, wonder, and adventure. This escapism can help reduce stress and anxiety by temporarily shifting our focus away from real-life problems, lowering our stress levels and promoting neuroplasticity, and supporting the brain's ability to adapt and learn.

When your imagination is stimulated through reading fiction, your mind-brain-body connection aligns, which helps support your mental and physical wellbeing. The experience of getting absorbed into another world where you heighten and develop your senses is quite literally growing your brain in a way that stimulates brainpower, creativity and emotional intelligence! 

For more on reading fiction and the brain, listen to my podcast (episode #568). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).          

This podcast is sponsored by:  

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Podcast Highlights

1:38 Why reading fiction is great for our brain health

8:40 How reading fiction helps calm down the brain & bring insight and clarity

10:40 The many mind management benefits of reading fiction

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.


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