The onslaught of the internet has caused many a bookshelf in homes to start gathering dust, but sociology experts say reading is one habit that every parent must inculcate in children, and if you’re past the age of parental guidance, pick up a book if you want to do what’s good for you. Here’s how the reading habit benefits you.

1. It helps you become smarter. In all intelligence tests carried out by researchers, children as well as adults who were into reading have been consistently scoring higher than those who are not. This higher level of smartness was not only evident in exam performance, but also in dealing with problems in practical life.

2. It slows down memory loss. The growing incidence of age-related dementia and Alzhiemer’s is a cause of concern, but research says reading can slow down their effect. Keeping the brain engaged and providing stimulus is what books do, jogging your grey cells out of inactivity that is toxic.

3. It helps to beat stress. Book lovers will swear to it that there’s nothing more relaxing than casting your cares aside and losing yourself in the fantasy of a good story. Studies have proved listening to music and reading as the two top stress relievers.

4. It makes you more humane. Since books are the best way to see things from different perspectives, and to understand different characters, cultures and circumstances, they evoke empathic feelings in the reader, making him less judgmental. Once you stand in a character’s shoes and see the world from their eyes, you’ll never be quick to pass judgment on others’ actions without second thoughts.

5. Reading builds your social skills. Because books nurture empathy, avid readers are more skilled at building and preserving relationships. Also, people who read are much better conversationists, because they can draw inferences and find diverse topics to talk about much more easily than others.