I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten, even so, they have made me. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When was the last time you enjoyed a great read? It had been a while since I was absorbed in a fictional novel and not for a lack of incredible books. Last week a friend of mine finished The Immigrants By Howard Fast. She LOVED the book and lent it to me. WOW! Following each time set aside for reading, I felt different, as in that “great” way of getting lost in someone else’s story!! It’s refreshing to step out of one’s own life and to be “imagination” present in another world of characters, drama, history, victory/defeat…fully immersed and desperately wanting the story to continue as the last few pages signify the end. At some point during this past year my daily reading habit (novels) slipped out of my life and so did the relaxing benefits that can be refreshing to the mind, body and soul. After conducting a quick Internet search I came across some interesting and thoughtful comments describing the soothing lingering benefits of a good read… “serenely reposed in mellowing afterthoughts, a deep emotional state of nostalgic, the sensation of having a friend whose memory will remain, awe and inspiration, rewarding to be part of someone’s journey, a literary afterglow, hope, assurance, promise, warm pleasure, compassion and empathy. Quora And, it some cases there is a feeling of grief that the story is over; profound melancholicand the feeling of profound loss that deep down in your heart you know you couldn’t have related better with anyone!” Quora
When I finished reading The Immigrants, I felt an overwhelming sense of achievement as if I time-traveled through the years 1888 -1933! Reading can add layers of life experiences, all through an adventure in literature.
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man [person] who never reads lives only one. George R. R. Martin
The following shares health benefits of reading books, affecting adults and children physically, mentally, and emotionally. After reading this post you will want to start searching for your next novel!
General Health Benefits of Reading
What you choose to read is important. Focus on “feel good” inspirational stories, even though the novel may include hardships and tragedies. A good novel releases our attachment to daily stressful triggers. After a time of reading, there is a feeling of being refreshed “resting” in someone else’s story.
“Reading can be a wonderful (and healthy) escape from the stress of everyday life. Simply by opening a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors. Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. This is because your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life. Taking Charge of Your Health and Well Being, University of Minnesota – Reading for Stress Relief
According to a new study, reading books could extend lifespan by up to 2 years, and the more often you read, the better. Reading Books Can Increase Your Lifespan, Huffington Post, August 2017
Reading that inspires imagination is good food for the brain. As we age, mental agility and the ability to recall short-term and long-term memories can be more challenging, the result of our brains getting older. Novels require a deeper concentration, which activates brain cells protecting mental agility as opposed to skimming magazines and newspapers. Reading also works on emotional health, working and stimulating cognitive processes which impacts empathy, emotional intelligence, and social perceptions.
Unlike, say, skimming a page of headlines, reading a book (of any genre) forces your brain to think critically and make connections from one chapter to another, and to the outside world. When you make connections, so does your brain, literally forging new pathways between regions in all four lobes and both hemispheres. Over time, these neural networks can promote quicker thinking and may provide a greater defense against the worst effects of cognitive decay. Reader’s Digest Here’s Why Your Brain Needs You to Read Every Single Day, by Brandon Spector
First, it [reading novels] promotes “deep reading,” which is a slow, immersive process; this cognitive engagement occurs as the reader draws connections to other parts of the material, finds applications to the outside world, and asks questions about the content presented. Cognitive engagement may explain why vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills are improved by exposure to books. Second, books can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival. Better health behaviors and reduced stress may explain this process NCBI Study – Soc Sci Med. – A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity. 2016 Sep;164:44-48. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 18.
Audio Books vs Traditional Books?
Whether reading or listening to novels, both require focus and imagination. Audio books are just as effective on our physical, mental and emotional well being as reading traditional books, for adults. Multitasking when the hands are free is the only audio book caveat, making it easier to become distracted when listening rather than reading a book. Listening to poetry through audio books, however, has been found to be more profound for comprehension and understanding…”because an audio book pre-determines an aspect of language called prosody, or the musicality of words. “Someone who knows the meaning can convey a lot through prosody,” Willingham said. “If you’re listening to a poem, the prosody might help you.” Is Listening To Audio Books Really The Same As Reading, Forbes, Olga Khazan
As science writer Olga Khazan noted in 2011, a “1985 study found listening comprehension correlated strongly with reading comprehension — suggesting that those who read books well would listen to them well. In a 1977 study, college students who listened to a short story were able to summarize it with equal accuracy as those who read it.” Listeners and readers retain about equal understanding of the passages they’ve consumed, in other words. Is Listening to Audio Books Really the Same as Reading? Forbes Olga Khazan
Is it best for children to read books instead of audio books? Until children reach middle school, the brain’s decoding process through reading requires development that comes through visual practice. There are exceptions for those students whose learning abilities thrive only through auditory means. “Decoding, by contrast, is specific to reading, Willingham said; this is indeed one more step your mind has to take when reading a print book as compared to listening to the audiobook version. But by about late elementary school, decoding becomes so second-nature that it isn’t any additional “work” for your brain. It happens automatically.” To Your Brain Listening to a Books is Pretty Much Like Reading It. The Cut, By Melissa Dahl
Impact Reading has on Children
I began reading aloud to my son while he was in the womb and continued until he was independently reading books on his own. Stimulating the brain through story telling encourages the development of brain cells in infants and toddlers. As children progress through school, daily and consistent reading for pleasure has multiple long lasting benefits in these 5 areas as noted in Benefits of Early Reading by Teach Reading Early…“Neurological, Educational, Psychological, Social, Linguistic.”
And, if novels can de-stress adults, they can de-stress children as well. This is especially true in a world where kids have become overcommitted and expectations to achieve perfection have become more prevalent than ever before, affecting students in younger age groups with each passing year.
Born with about 100 billion neurons (the cells that receive, process and transmit information in our brains), babies are actively working to make sense of the world around them. These neurons have the ability to connect with each other and form neural pathways – the foundation for learning. Reading aloud to babies, and using language promotes the development of these pathways, and the more pathways a child develops, the more they will be able to learn as time passes by. Three Ways Early Reading Benefits Infants Development by FirstBook.org, Gavin McGuire January 2018
Five Physical Benefits of Reading covers the following benefits of reading: They Help Kids See, Books Sharpen The Senses, They Get Kids Moving, Books Grow Brain Cells, and They Make The Heart Bigger.
Books grow brain cells Struggling readers have fewer cells in some regions. But a study found that after six months of daily reading, the weak spots beefed up so much that the kids’ brains looked the same as those of kids with stronger reading skills. Five Physical Benefits of Reading, Parent & Child Magazine by By Jennifer Abasi
Discover Your Genre and Select Your Next Read
The New York Times best-seller list is a great place for book recommendations, however, many fantastic reads never make this list. I’ve read incredible stories through KINDLE FREE books as well as recommendations from Goodreads.com, book clubs, and through friends. Most all online resources filter by genre for selections and updates on books that interest you, making the journey of finding your next novel far easier to navigate! Below are resources to finding your next novel. In addition, get acquainted with your local library and open an online account to access e-books and audiobooks for the whole family.
Busy living, social media, and technological advances compete for our attention today. These modern day temptations can become a wedge to settling-in to an adventurous novel…book or an audio book. You can change this! Make time! There are health advantages that come from reading novels (inspirational biographies, too) when we are able to escape the routine of our own lives and enter into someone else’s story! Romain Rokand, eloquently describes this get-a-way… “No one ever reads a book. He reads himself through books.” You, too, can experience afterglows, awe, adventure, and inspiration when immersed in a good story. If it’s been a while since you read a book, consider finding or reconnecting to a favorite genre. Highlight time in your calendar to de-stress!! Studies support that reading triggers brain cell development in infants, aids in the learning abilities of children and adults, and increases longevity among the elderly protecting against cognitive decay. Who would have known reading books could rank as one of the best “supplements” for good and healthy living, whatever your age! Be inspired! Read to good health!
- The Immigrants By Howard Fast
- Quora, How Do I Express In A Single Word Or Phrase The Lingering Feeling Experiences After Reading?
- Taking Charge of Your Health and Well Being, University of Minnesota – Reading for Stress Relief
- Reading Books Can Increase Your Lifespan, Huffington Post, August 2017
- Reader’s Digest Here’s Why Your Brain Needs You to Read Every Single Day, by Brandon Spector
- Soc Sci Med. – A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity. 2016 Sep;164:44-48. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014. Epub 2016 Jul 18
- Is Listening To Audio Books Really The Same As Reading, Forbes, Olga Khazan
- To Your Brain Listening to a Books is Pretty Much Like Reading It. The Cut, By Melissa Dahl
- Benefits of Early Reading, by Teach Reading Early
- Three Ways Early Reading Benefits Infants Development, by FirstBook.org Gavin McGuire, January 2018
- Five Physical Benefits of Reading, Parent & Child Magazine By Jennifer Abasi