The science behind the perfect summer read

It’s funny how a good Netflix or Amazon Prime series can affect us and have us thinking about that cliff-hanger for weeks. But for me, stories from authors and paperback books help me expand my mind creativity in more ways then ever. As an aspiring author (one day hopefully), I love to know what attracts people to a good book and thanks to a recent study, commissioned for the launch of ‘The Obsession’ by best-selling author Nora Roberts, now I know. Examining some of the most popular literary genres, the study set out to see what really goes on in both our brains and bodies when we curled up with a good book and the results were really surprising!

The experiment, which saw 50 female participants take part in under controlled conditions in London last month, also uncovered Brits underestimation of escapism and positive physiological benefits of sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Now I love a good Sci-fi or fantasy novel(Hello Hunger Games/Twilight) but I think it’s almost the romance element of these books that I sometimes enjoy more. I think suspense also serves well especially with twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of their seats and keen to read each page.

Here are the results from the study:

Top 5 most enjoyable literary genres as measured by physiological indicators in experiment:

Romantic suspense (83%)

Thriller only (74%)

Sci-fi and fantasy (60%)

Non-fiction (55%)

Romance/erotica (52%)

Top 5 favourite genres anecdotally from questionnaire:



Thriller only

Sci-fi and fantasy


Despite selling over 100million copies, erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey scored the LEAST in overall enjoyment (52%) when indicators such as pulse rate, body language, and levels of relaxation were tested by leading behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings.

Three quarters (75%) of participants said they read to relax, yet the E.L James novel produced a 5% increase in pulse rates indicating heightened physical stress and anxiety.

In fact, erotic romance scored so low (52%), even non-fiction examples such as Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals pipped it to the post with overall enjoyment levels of 55%.

Instead, romance and suspense produced the MOST physical enjoyment with an 83% positive engagement rate. When tested, this winning literary combination physically relaxed readers by 13% more than reading pure romance novels, and 10% more than solid thrillers.

Surprising right?!

‘The Obsession’, featuring number one bestselling author Nora Roberts’ unique combination of suspense and passion, is the perfect summer read! It will get your brain thinking and even throw your body and mind into the depths of the story and looking at the results, I’m sure you’re going  love it! I know I do!

For more info on Nora Roberts, check out her website:

‘The Obsession’ is available now to buy nationwide.


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