Psychological Benefits of Reading Biographies

· March 21, 2019
Reading biographies is beneficial. Biographies help us learn about different cultures, see life through someone else's eyes, and learn from their successes and failures.

This article discusses the psychological benefits of reading biographies. We all know that reading, in general, has many psychological and emotional benefits. It’s a very effective way to keep our brain active and improve our empathy and creativity. It boosts ambiguous thinking and increases the neuronal connectivity of the brain, among many other things.

Some say that reading biographies is hopping on the shoulders of giants. This, in our opinion, is entirely true. Reading biographies is a very effective way to see things from a different perspective.

Carefully reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things is an incredible source of inspiration. This is the main difference between reading fiction and reading about real people. From a psychological point of view, reading biographies can be a very effective tool for the development of abilities and capacities.

“Biography is history seen through the prism of a person.”

-Louis Fischer-

They teach us valuable life lessons

There’s no doubt that life itself is the best teacher. The knowledge we gain from our experiences keeps accumulating as we continue to live our lives. This knowledge influences us in a great way, even if we don’t realize it.

Although it’d be nice to accumulate all of our life experiences and remember them one by one, this sometimes can be detrimental to our health. Luckily for us, it’s quite impossible to remember them all and we often forget painful ones. However, we do usually remember the life lessons they left us. Reading biographies allows us to submerge ourselves in lived experiences, achievements, and failures. We not only learn about the good things these people did, but also of their failures.

A woman reading biographies during sunset.

They bring us closer to a historical perspective

Reading biographies also means reading about the environment and social conditions in which the historical figure lived. We sometimes learn more history through its protagonists than from the historical events themselves.

Knowing history helps us understand the present and everything that currently surrounds us. It’s important to learn about cultural references that influence us since it makes us understand certain events better. It’s also useful to learn about other people’s attitudes and our own. Basically, reading biographies gives us valuable tools to face the world.

They promote self-discovery

Self-discovery is one of the processes that help us come up with our self-concept. Through the details of other people’s experiences, situations and limitations, it’ll be easier for us to get an idea of who we are by comparison.

It also broadens the focus and opinions we hold when it comes to some issues. It allows us to see the world in other ways and get different points of view. The contrary could also happen, though – they may provide us with arguments that ratify our values or beliefs.

“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.”

-Barack Obama-

Reading biographies inspires us to face failure

Many of the biographies of prominent and notable people have several teachings about being afraid of failure. For some reason, most of us believe that success is guaranteed, that it’s a straight road that will take us wherever we want to go.

Reading biographies of successful people will make us understand that success isn’t guaranteed, that there are several failed attempts behind every accomplishment that these people learned from. After all, what’s life without failures? I doubt we’d learn anything at all!

A man reading a book.

They broaden our knowledge of general culture

Nonfiction books, in general, teach a lot of general culture. However, reading biographies specifically allows us to see life through another person’s eyes and therefore learn about everything they went through first-hand.

Biographies bring us closer to different worlds with very different social contexts we may not have access to in our personal lives. The knowledge we can acquire through these reads is very diverse and extensive. Moreover, learning about general knowledge and the world influences our self-esteem.

They’re an easy read

In addition to its many benefits, there’s another reason why you should enjoy reading biographies: they’re usually very easy to read. For this reason and the others we mentioned above, reading this type of literature is more than recommended.

Learning from great men and women (and also from the bad and wicked) puts the world in perspective. Knowing how they faced their problems, how they believed in themselves, how they were able to exploit their talents, and how they oriented their lives is a source of knowledge that helps us direct our own life.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

-Benjamin Franklin-