Whether you’re tossing a few paperbacks into your beach bag, digging into a “bucket list” book on the back porch, or catching up on the latest bestseller during a long plane ride, summertime is when many of us are at our most literary (including HighTower's own CEO, Elliot Weissbluth).

Beyond keeping you entertained when the sun’s too bright to see your smartphone screen, the act of reading a good book offers valuable benefits for people of all ages and walks of life—and science proves it. Here are just a few compelling reasons to crack a book (or two, or more…!) before Labor Day.

1. Reading improves brain function. A 2014 study published in the journal Brain Connectivity revealed that after reading a novel, students displayed “heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language.” The researchers also recorded activity in the primary sensory motor region of the brain—suggesting that a great story doesn’t just spark your imagination, but can neurologically transport you into someone else’s shoes.

2. Reading can increase empathy. Speaking of putting yourself in others’ shoes, research also shows that reading literary fiction “improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling”—a skill that we could all stand to improve in today’s often-divisive world.

3. Reading makes you a better writer. According to the Harvard Business Review, bad business writing is rampant in the corporate world—and it costs companies in productivity. What’s one way to make sure you’re not the weak link on your team? Read more.

4. Reading improves concentration and memory. Reading is a better “mental workout” than listening to a podcast or watching a TV show. And just as physical exercise results in a stronger body, exercising your brain yields benefits in the form of greater concentration and a sharper memory.

Need some book recommendations? Check out these lists of the best books for summer 2017 from Publisher’s Weekly, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and USA Today. Your local library also probably also has its own handpicked summer reading lists for kids and adults.

Happy summer and happy reading!