3 reasons to read more

There's nothing like a good book. Whether you're spending a relaxing day on the beach or you're cooped up indoors on a cold or rainy day, reading a book is a great way to keep busy and refocus your thoughts. Even light-hearted magazines and brief news reports can take you out of your own head for a short period and teach you a few new things about the world around you. As if you needed more convincing, here are some other reasons to make a trip to the library.

1. It improves brain function
It turns out reading can make you smarter - even if it's not intended for educational purposes. According to an Emory University study published in the journal Brain Connectivity, a good fictional story can help the reader broaden his or her perspective and utilize the brain the same way athletes use visualization of a muscle memory. Not just that, but you often just feel more intelligent with every page.

2. It's an escape from your everyday life
There's no shame in appreciating a journey in someone else's shoes every now and then. It can be fun to imagine what it would be like to lead a different life and learn from others' joys and hardships. Reading is a great way to explore what you might not be able to on your own.

"People are interested in escape," Book Report Network founder Carol Fitzgerald told Psychology Today. "In a number of pages, the story will open, evolve and close, and a lot of what's going on in the world today is not like that. You've got this encapsulated escape that you can enjoy."

3. It's a great group activity
Even if you like to read on your own, it's always fun to share your analysis with a friend or two. It's the perfect activity for those in independent living communities to get together and discuss themes, lessons and characters from their favorite books. Plus, it's the perfect excuse to socialize and eat fun snacks and desserts with your friends. Select a healthy mix of classics and contemporary best-sellers to stay well-rounded and up to date on all of the best literature. You can also sign up for Good Reads, a free service that asks for some of your favorite titles and presents you with similar books that you may enjoy. Those in your book club can set up accounts and take turns firing off recommendations.