Reading and Imagination. Does Reading Improve Imagination?

Reading and Imagination

Having a rich imagination is something that is often attributed as a default ability to people and is considered an innate personality trait, not a trained skill. 

Here at Basmo, we believe that even though the genetic component can’t be ignored, imagination is something that can be developed or improved through a series of techniques and habits. 

The connections between reading and imagination go way beyond the “visible spectrum” and one question we receive quite often is “does reading improve imagination”? Here’s what we found out trying to answer that question.

Does reading improve imagination?

The fact that reading has a plethora of physical and mental health benefits should come as no surprise to any of us. What most people fail to consider though, is the importance of reading in the development of a rich imagination. 

Yes, reading improves imagination. Scientists have managed to come to the conclusion that reading and creativity are connected and that reading improves imagination by closely analyzing our brains while reading. 

Neuroscientists noticed that the brain connectivity increases considerably while reading and after reading, which led them to the conclusion that through this increased connectivity, our brain is able to make connections faster, come up with better and quicker solutions in problem-solving tasks, and, ultimately, boost the imagination and creativity.

Scientists also noticed that even though the main centers responsible for reading and comprehension are placed in the left brain, which is the analytical side, the right brain also flares up during reading sessions. The right brain is responsible for visualization and, to put it as vividly as possible, deals with images more than it does with words.

The only logical conclusion to be drawn from this is that even though reading mainly activates the left side of the brain, the fact that the right side also responds during reading indicates that reading forces us to visualize the things we are reading about, training our right brain to create imaginative images more often and better, thus improving our imagination.

Reading stimulates the imagination of young readers as well as adults. The developing brain of a child will benefit tremendously from the imagination training that is associated with reading or being read to, which “flexes their brain muscles” helping them become more creative and imaginative. 

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How does reading stimulate imagination?

Understanding the exact ways in which reading improves our imagination is essential in trying to exploit them in order to get better results. Not only that, but the ways reading can boost our imagination and creativity are also quite interesting and can reveal other aspects of our favorite hobby.

Fiction forces us to imagine the things we are reading

Whether we go for the absolute top genre for imagination (sci-fi)  or we limit ourselves to more earthly fiction genres, the one thing that stays the same in this scenario is the fact that while reading, we are subconsciously going to try to visualize what we are reading.

Whether it’s spaceships, flying horses, or simply the face of a character the author is describing in great detail, our brain is going to try to create a mental image of the things we are reading about. That can be seen as a form of exercise for the centers of the brain responsible for our imagination and creativity.

Doing this “exercise” often is going to train our imagination centers to the extent where we are going to find it a lot easier to use our imagination for other purposes, separate from our reading habits.  

Reading relaxes us and helps us relieve stress

Any person working in a creative field is going to agree that inspiration and imagination are not things that can be successfully used while under pressure. Having a relaxed mind is essential for being able to use our imagination and creativity to their maximum potential.

With that in mind, it’s important to know that reading is one of the most relaxing and effective stress-relieving activities you could choose. Just a couple of minutes of reading can have a hugely positive effect on our state of mind, reducing the level of stress, decreasing blood pressure and heart rate, and changing our mood for the better.

Reading keeps our brain healthy

A healthy brain, one that functions properly and is in good shape is always going to be the more imaginative one when compared to a tired, overloaded, and less healthy brain.

Since reading is a mental exercise that can keep our brain healthy and “fit”, the only conclusion that can be logically drawn is that through the positive effects of reading on our brain health, reading also improves imagination.

Reading fiction has been recognized as one of the cheapest, most convenient, and efficient tools for maintaining our brain in good form, especially at a young age and in the late years. To be more precise, reading helps the children’s brain develop correctly and also prevents or at least delays the onset of age-related cognitive disorders. 

Reading reduces any sense of boundary 

Reading fiction puts you face to face with alternative realities where everything is possible. Fiction, and especially science fiction, will give you a sense that there is no limit to what the human mind is capable of imagining. 

Constantly exposing yourself to amazing stories that are born in the authors’ imaginations is going to give you a sense that there is no limit to what the mind can achieve and will remove any negative preconceptions you may have about the way our brains and imaginations work. 

Not only that but for many readers, the experience of immersing themselves in these alternative realities where everything is possible as a result of the author’s ideas also acts as a source of inspiration. It should come as no surprise for anyone that most writers, or at least the good ones, are also avid readers. For an aspiring writer, there is no better inspiration source and no better exercise for the imagination muscles than reading.

How to maximize the effect of reading on your imagination

Now that we have an understanding of the connection between books and imagination, it’s only natural to start wondering what more we can do to give our imagination a boost. 

Yes, having a rich imagination is an important quality to have these days, as its applications go way beyond simply being able to make up stories. A good imagination is going to help you solve problems quicker, and in more creative ways and it will help you think outside the box more often. It goes without saying that in our fast-paced lives filled to the brim with all kinds of different challenges, having the ability to think on your feet is extremely valuable.

1. Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness are great things to practice if you want your imagination to start working better, to your advantage. Both meditation and mindfulness have a calming effect and numerous physical and mental health benefits.

And speaking of mindfulness, what we need to understand about this concept is that we need to find ways to apply it in all the aspects of our lives, which brings us to the amazing experience of mindful reading. If you want to start being mindful about your reading, this means you need to do it with a level of involvement and awareness that usually doesn’t come naturally.

That is where Basmo steps in to help you achieve the level of mindfulness you need in your reading. This reading tracking app comes packed to the brim with features meant to help the modern reader improve and become more efficient.

Basmo tracks your emotions

With Basmo, you can keep your emotions in check as you read. Thanks to the feature that allows you to select the emojis that match your mental state after each reading session, Basmo allows you to analyze how reading certain books makes you feel.

Basmo provides you with statistics

The app analyzes all the important aspects of your reading habits, giving you an exact idea regarding your performance. This will allow you to be constantly aware of your efficiency as a reader and a chance to improve.

Reading mindfully is going to make you more involved in the reading you are doing and since you are going to simply put more thought into your reading, your imagination is also going to benefit tremendously.

2. Try imagination exercises

There are certain ways you can exercise your imagination, and that is usually done by forcing your brain to act in surprising ways. There are certain exercises you can try from time to time in order to achieve the best results:

  • Write a 6-word story
  • Write avoiding a certain letter
  • Try to think like a kid
  • Look at things from a different perspective

Constantly challenging your brain to exercise on these things is going to seriously improve your imagination.

3. Use Basmo

A particularly powerful tool in the hands of every modern reader, Basmo is a reading tracking app that can help you tremendously in the process of boosting your imagination. Even though its main purpose is to help you become a better reader, Basmo can have many other applications for your mental abilities, creativity, and, of course, reading habits.

For example, using the note-taking feature gives you a particularly powerful tool while reading. The fact that you can simply pick up your phone while a reading session is ongoing and start typing gives you the amazing opportunity to exercise your imagination by trying to guess what the characters are going to do next. If you think you know what is going to happen next in the book you are reading, make a note using Basmo and see later if you were right.

Moreover, Basmo also offers a journaling feature where you can simply jot down your thoughts about the reading you’ve been doing lately. That way, you can use Basmo to do imagination exercises like the ones I presented above and simply type the results in your journal.

On top of this, you can also exercise your visual imagination using the quote creation feature within the app. You can use your phone’s camera to scan the text from the book, extract it as a note and then turn it into a beautifully designed visual quote. You can select from predefined templates and also create or edit your own, having the possibility to create the image exactly as you imagine it in your mind’s eye.

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What are the best quotes about reading and imagination?

Many things have been said about reading and imagination throughout history. We have always been amazed by the power of fictional stories and how they can influence us. Here are some of the most interesting, creative, and meaningful quotes that best express in words the importance of reading for our imagination:

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr. Seuss

A book is a device to ignite the imagination.

Alan Bennet

Many in the creative professions were nerds in the past because they spent so long reading comics and using their imaginations when they were growing up. 

Jim Lee

Reading is the spark to imagination. Ignite yours and live forever free. 

Dan Sanders

I could spend all day lost in someone else’s imagination. I love reading. 

Joanna Bolouri

Final thoughts

So, not only does reading improve imagination, it is a key to a free, creative, and relaxed mind. Read as much as you can and use Basmo to become the reader you always dreamt you would become.

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