Happiness is reading

Yes, it’s official.  People with strong literacy skills are happier than those who struggle with reading.  But I didn’t have to tell you that, right?

A study by the National Literacy Trust shows that men and women alike are less likely to marry, less likely to own a home, more likely to live still with their parents and less likely to feel satisfied with life if they can’t read.

Of course, you always have to be careful, because statistics can say pretty much whatever you want.  Lower literacy means a lower paying job in most cases, which might in turn explain the findings.  Or lower levels of happiness in certain people might lead then to read less and learn less.  Cause and effect are not always easy to establish.

That being said, literacy facilitates so much that a focus on increasing a person’s literacy should help them in many facets of their lives, most likely also in their happiness (being able to read is very empowering), and having access to more information when one needs it reduces happiness-zapping frustration.

And if literacy in one language is empowering, what about literacy in several?  Yes, learn some more languages, and you’ll be surprised at the doors it opens up for you.

For those interested in reading the report in its entirety:


  1. I must admit, I am usually happier when I read more often. I am not sure if it relaxes me, or just learning new things. The hardest part for me is keeping up the habit of reading often. Sometimes I get on a rut where I don’t pick up a book for a couple weeks.

  2. if I couldn’t read I would be pretty unhappy….. however, people that know less have less stressful life – you don’t know, you don’t care.

  3. I should note that literacy is also about writing. One of things we have learned running our freelance writers agency is that people often come to us with their life stories. Some come because “writing it down would be good therapy”. Others come to bear their soul because “others could learn from what I have been through”, sometimes poor choices, sometimes victim of an organization. Many people keep a diary for just that purpose, and once they see the words in writing, they can let go of their troubles inside.

    We have also set up a ghost writers blog, in case that is of interest to you.

  4. Wow — that’s interesting! Reading is such a valuable skill that most of us take for granted. I don’t know what I would do or how I would make it if I couldn’t read.

    My great grandmother never learned how to read and I see her struggle continuously. She has difficulty using a phone book and paying her bills. Simple every day tasks are overwhelming and stressful for her.

  5. Nathalie Rochon says

    I enjoy reading very much. I can also read in French and Italian. However, despite my expensive private education I have never had well paid jobs that reflect my education. I enjoy reading the daily dose of happiness but my financial concerns keep me too busy to think much about happiness and my goal of finding a partner.

  6. I used to read before i got married and i was so happy and it made me in a v good mood…. i am busy now with kids and life,,,missing reading a lot though,,,,i realized now not reading lead to unhappiness

  7. David Leonhardt says

    @meshmesh98 When I think how much I used to read before kids…

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