why do we need to read good books

Most of us have been reading since we were very young, but how many of us really think about the БwhyБ behind the words? What makes a novel compelling, or a memoir so riveting? Why do some readers lose themselves in fantasy and sci-fi while others swear by non-fiction instead? According to Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, БWhy people read what they read is a great unknown and personal thing. Б But while the reasons for reading canБt exactly be dissected, the science behind why readers read - and what happens to our brains when we read - is profoundly interesting. I read, therefore I am stimulated. Sometimes lifelong readers read simply because reading makes them feel good, or because itБs familiar. Many famous novelists confess to being steered towards books by a single transformative reading experience during adolescence. Junot Diaz, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,"б
with his family after emigrating from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey. Sherman Alexie, who won the National Book Award for БThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," attributes his romance with reading to "The Snowy Day," a childrenБs picture book that featured a БbrownБ character like himself. Most readers would be able to relate to those stories, but the missing plot component behind each of them is the Бwhy. Б Does a lifelong love of reading really just come down to firing endorphins? Not quite. This is where science comes into play. Your brain on books The human brain is very creative, and we naturally tend to visualize whatever we think about. While the average reader is no Einstein (who famously that led to all of his breakthroughs), the act of reading naturally triggers complex visualizations. In other words, getting lost in a great book is a highly immersive experience that makes our brains come alive. In fact, at least neurologically-speaking. The same regions of the brain stimulated by the real thing are also stimulated by words. So, while a literary fiction reader may have a harder time suspending disbelief compared to a J. R. R. Tolkien apologist, both readers are having vicarious experiences. Nonfiction readers are just as susceptible: a good memoir or guidebook allows readers to retrace the experiences of the writer in the same way fiction does.


Story structure itself also plays a role in why we start reading and keep reading throughout adult life. A story with a beginning, middle, and end is food for the brain because it. Neuroscientists actually encourage parents to read to their children because it extends attention spans while the brain is growing. Which begs the question: does the brain react in the same way to other story mediums the same way it does to text? Not quite. Believe it or not, reading has a unique power. How reading is different from listening or watching According to one Carnegie Mellon study,. Participants underwent a six-month reading program and were actually able to increased white matter in the language area of the brain, which could lower the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) associated with AlzheimerБs disease. Critical literary reading can even in complex cognitive functions. In other words, reading can benefit non-readers, too. People who prefer to get their story fix via television or video game narratives can be trained to become better readers, which will help them maintain cognitive ability and increase attention spans over time. As psychologists from Washington University in St. Louis discovered, Бreaders mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative. Б By doing so, they become Бmore alert to the inner lives of others. Б This would certainly explain why many introverts also happen to be bookworms. Reading not only tickles their fancies in the right way - it also helps them develop sympathetic social skills apart from high-stress social environments. Reading between the lines As it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons to read and keep reading. In an age of increasing technological distractions, readers, writers, and publishers alike can find solace in the fact that what they do helps us all stay grounded. It certainly doesnБt hurt that reading makes us smarter, too. A lifelong love of reading may very well be one of the best habits (or addictions) youБll ever have. t AbeBooks we believe there is something undeniably special about reading.


And we don t just love to read books. We love to talk about them. So over the past few weeks, we ve asked our followers to answer a few questions: When did they fall in love with reading? Why? What is their favorite thing about books? The responses we received were a treat to read. Some, like me, have loved reading since before they even knew how. Others came to appreciate the hobby later in life. I could relate to many of the memories shared. The adventure of having my first library card. The frustration of being continually told by my parents to take a break from reading and go outside. The wonderful feeling of refreshment that I continue to experience each day that I spend reading a book (most recently C. S. Lewis s and Elizabeth Gaskell s ). Whether we came to love reading at five or at fifty, the experience has become a significant and treasured part of many people s lives. Here are seven of the most common reasons why. 1. Reading dares you to grow. Before you can read, you must learn how. You must push yourself to interact with meaningless lines and squiggles until they transform into stories, characters and ideas. And once you master picture books, you move forward to children s novels. Novels without pictures. Classic literature. Books in foreign languages. Reading is an exercise in perseverance, in which you constantly challenge yourself to achieve more than you did with your last book. 2. Reading allows you to experience multiple realities. We all have a uniquely valuable role in life. But many of us, even if satisfied with that role, often wonder what it would be like to live in a different place, work at a different job, or even be a completely different person. For brief moments of time, books release us from the constraints of our own reality. They take us beyond our world and into someone else s real or imaginary one. They satisfy the curiosity of the elusive What if?. 3. Reading challenges your perspective. When you experience life through the eyes of another, you encounter diverse angles on life s most common situations. Talented authors will naturally inspire empathy for their characters, and empathizing with viewpoints different from your own can feel uncomfortable.


Extremely uncomfortable. While reading doesn t mean that you ll agree with different perspectives, it does offer you the opportunity to understand them. 4. Reading helps you remember. Reading isn t only about discovering the new. It s also a vehicle for reflection. Many bibliophiles can trace their love of reading back to a cherished memory, such as being read to by a parent or discovering the first book they ever loved (, or, anyone? ). Re-reading those favorite books, or reading about familiar places, times and people helps us recall the details of our own lives. It reminds us who we are, where we are and how we came here. 5. Reading helps you forget. Chronic escapism is by no means a healthy habit, but neither is dwelling on stressful life circumstances one hundred percent of the time. In short doses, allowing your mind to focus on things other than your challenges can be highly beneficial and even necessary. Reading, like exercise, offers a safe, healthy and productive replacement for negative thinking. It gives your mind a safe place to rest until you regain the strength you need to overcome your obstacles. 6. Reading means you don t have to be alone. During your life, you will experience numerous transitions. Changing schools, jobs or cities may require you to replace old relationships with new ones, and sometimes successful adjustments are harder or take longer than expected. Whether it s through the comfort of a favorite book or through an emotional connection to relatable characters, books provide a stable source of companionship during the times that you feel the only person you can count on is yourself. 7. Reading brings life. If you re a book lover, chances are that you ve experienced reading to be a rejuvenating activity that renews your energy and elevates your mood. Numerous book lovers have testified that reading gives them purpose, helps them persevere through difficulty and unlocks parts of themselves they didn t even know existed. For all of the reasons in this article and more, reading makes us feel optimistically, breathlessly, tenaciously alive. By Katie Yakovleva

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