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Reading is Fundamental, Goddammit!

I've been reading a bunch of articles over the last few days telling me why reading is important.

It's the best method for de-stressing.

And it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, research found.

Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.


Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.

Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, have a cup of tea of coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 per cent.

Playing video games brought them down by 21 per cent from their highest level but still left the volunteers with heart rates above their starting point.

Reading literary fiction (as opposed to popular fiction) builds empathy.

Popular fiction tends to portray situations that are otherworldly and follow a formula to take readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions and exciting experiences. Although the settings and situations are grand, the characters are internally consistent and predictable, which tends to affirm the reader's expectations of others. It stands to reason that popular fiction does not expand the capacity to empathize.

Literary fiction, by contrast, focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. "Often those characters' minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we're forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations," Kidd says. This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters' introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world, which is full of complicated individuals whose inner lives are usually difficult to fathom.

I think it's also important to see words being used in context in order to learn how to use them to effectively communicate ideas.

But...BUT i hate reading books that are depressing. And cereally, literary fiction is depressing. It's about the "psychology of characters and relationships". That's real life shit and real life is sad. Now, i love reading and seeing words of many syllables being used correctly. Those are prolly the only things that have gotten me through several works of literature.

So, the chances of getting people already on the fence about reading to trade in their Hunger Games for some Catch-22 prolly aren't very high. Your one chance might be to implant the idea into a young, unformed brain. If you know anyone with children, start seeding the idea that reading is a fantastic thing they should do lots of.

But lest you start pushing literature on all and sundry with no consideration for their sensibilities, i'll just add this quote from Neil Gaiman:

Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King's Carrie, saying if you liked those you'll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King's name is mentioned.

You should see what happens whenever fnord12 brings up The World According to Garp. *grrr*

By min | October 16, 2013, 1:12 PM | Boooooks | Link

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