Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 30, 2016

Reading — New Reasons It’s Good For You!

My bookshelves are overflowing. Books also sit on dressers, chests, the coffee table, side tables, counters, and any other available surface. Boxes of books line the upstairs hallway. Some of these books are my husband’s, but most are mine.

books-1260734__180 via Pixabay - Author Chronicles

As you may have guessed, I hate getting rid of books that I enjoyed reading, and I’ve read many of my favorites more than once. Recently, however, the lack of places to put new books has made me look at my overabundance of books from a new perspective. I’ve realized that I will probably never have time (or desire) to reread the hundreds and hundreds of books in my house, not when so many fascinating new books are published each year. So I’ve begun the difficult task of going through the piles, boxes, and shelves of books and donating all except those I can’t bear to part with. (My husband thinks there are still too many of the latter.)

One unexpected result of this book clean-out is more reading on my part. I’ve reread a lot of books that have sat on my shelves for decades, and I’ve once more enjoyed the magic of being transported to those other times and places and situations with characters I love.

Of course, even when I’m the busiest and don’t have time to pick up a book, I still read newspapers and magazines as well as blog posts. From this reading comes not only information that helps me in my daily life, but also a continuous source of ideas for stories, characters, and settings.

newspaper-1595773__180 via Pixabay - Author Chronicles

Yes, I’ve always appreciated reading and don’t need scientific studies to show how it benefits me. Still, I really love when researchers discover new virtues of reading.

If you check out The Author Chronicles regularly, you know that we chroniclers are staunch advocates of reading as well as of writing. Our Top Picks Thursday includes blog posts about reading whenever we can find them, and I was pleased to include four posts about reading in the August 18th Top Picks Thursday. One of these posts, from Smithsonian.com, discussed research that indicates that readers may live longer than non-readers. This finding really thrills me: living longer means having time to read more books … and thus live even longer!

Last week I found more good news for readers when I picked up the September issue of Prevention magazine. A short article in their Daily Pulse section reports that researchers at University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that listening to story podcasts activated sensations, emotions, and memories throughout the entire brain, not just on one side. In other words, listening to stories engages the brain more than music or math.

Increased brain engagement (brain exercise) is a good thing, and while we can’t say for certain from the results of the University of California study, I’d imagine that listening to audiobooks and also reading paper and ebooks would have similar effects.  Stories activate many areas of our brains (People in my family won’t be surprised by this. When I’m deep in a novel, my mind is so engaged that I’m unaware of anything that’s going on around me.) — and maybe this extra brain activity is one reason people who read live longer.

Certainly, new studies will discover further benefits from reading, although I don’t need any more reasons to pick up a book and read. Do you?

books - shelf-159852__180 via Pixabay - Author Chronicles - reading

Are your bookshelves overflowing? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Images of books and newspapers from Pixabay.com.

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