The banner across the top of today’s Wall Street Journal read: ”Read Slowly and Change Your Brain.” The accompanying article didn’t actually extol the benefits of reading reaaallly slowly, but rather the benefits of actually reading books, literature, and fiction, which is sadly becoming a more and more rare phenomenon. Apparently the number of those over 18 who read is getting smaller and smaller. A study in 2011 indicated that only 76% of this population had actually read a book in a year. The article is worth a read, a slow read, not a scan or an “F” pattern read. (An “F” pattern read is reading the first line, then scanning down the left side and reading just the first few words on the left side of a few lines.)
The article lists the benefits of properly reading books. This included:
- Deepens empathy and provides pleasure
- Heightens concentration
- Enhances comprehension, particularly of complex material
- Improves listening skills
- Enriches vocabulary
- Reduces stress
Not a bad list, and let’s add relaxing, entertaining, thought provoking, educational, and, yes, it does change your brain. What a deal!
One of my ongoing concerns about our society is what I perceive to be a drop in processing skills. The lower the processing ability (short-term and working memory), the more simplistic is thought. The ability to think is rather important, and people who can think seem to becoming fewer and further between. I’m girding myself as we get started in a new election cycle. I hate to see and hear one more election that is orchestrated by those who should be selling breakfast cereal rather than explaining the views of a politician in one-liners. Perhaps if the majority of the population could process better and understand more, we could actually look at issues in depth and we wouldn’t need to sum everything up with a one-liner.
Take some time and read a book; actually, lots of books.