This Week in Nature: Novels in Nature  

If you are a frequent visitor of The Public Library’s website, there is a fair chance you are an avid reader. Most readers have a favorite reading spot — a floral armchair in the corner, by a window or a fireplace, in a homemade reading nook, or even in the Library! Reading anywhere is healthy for your mind and soul, but now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to talk about reading outside. 

It just so happens that taking a book out into the great outdoors, be it your backyard or in the forest, could provide various benefits and positive effects. If I convince you to take your book outdoors, just remember to wear healthy amounts of sunscreen! 

Natural Light 

We’ve all been hit with such bright sun rays that we have no choice but to squint and cup our eyes. We’ve all had strained eyes after large doses of reading. Surely, these two occurrences together would make reading more difficult outdoors, right? Wrong. As it so happens, reading outdoors can actually help with the dreaded eye strains that come from reading.  

Natural light creates a smoother contrast on the pages of a book, which means reading under the sun is less likely to cause eye strain than reading beside a lamp would. Sunlight helps the eye develop in children. In older adults, brighter light is needed to keep the eyes focused, so don’t be afraid to take the whole family out on a reading picnic — it’s good for all ages!  


Vitamin D 

It is common knowledge that time spent outdoors can be beneficial, especially in the field of stress reduction and management. The process starts with sunny D — no, not the incredibly tasty, albeit overwhelmingly sugary orange juice wannabe. We’re talking about Vitamin D, the natural mood booster that comes right from the sun. 

Vitamin D doesn’t just improve immune system health; studies have shown that time spent outdoors can increase happiness and overall life satisfaction. To complement this fact, a study from the University of Sussex found that reading can lower your heart rate and decrease muscle tension. Reading can reduce stress by 68 percent and has been documented as working better than a cup of tea or listening to music. So, if you put vitamin D and reading together, you have an excellent method of relaxation and an escape from the stressors of everyday life.  

Reading Yourself to Sleep 

Let’s put this blog to rest by discussing how outdoor reading can improve quality of sleep. It goes without saying that less stress leads to better sleep, so it only makes sense that a day of reading outdoors would lead to a restful night, right? Right! There’s research to back this claim! Sunlight has a strong effect on our circadian rhythm (internal process that regulates sleep cycle), and spending time in the sunlight helps regulate your internal clock. By regulating your internal clock, you are setting yourself up for a longer, deeper night’s sleep.  

Reading is a wonderful way to develop and relax the mind; it can enhance your vocabulary, cultural appreciation, and reduce stress all at once. Pair reading with relaxing outside, and you can experience a more engaging read and a greater connection to the natural world.