We all know that exercising the body is beneficial. But does the old saying “use it or lose it” also apply to our brain? Science says that our brain needs to learn, needs new challenges and needs to be continuously gathering new information to keep it young, healthy and engaged. As it turns out “Reading Books” is one of the best ways to accomplish this!
Today’s trend is to “Google” directions or definitions or any other information you may need at the time. But little of this is actually challenging your brain. This Information is usually gone as fast as it appeared and you are gaining very little from the experience.
No new-neurons are firing or forming lasting memory connections. There’s no new available branching of thoughts, ideas, or perspectives. In fact, there’s little or no thought connections happening at all! Just —Info-In! Info-used! Info-out! — and DELETE!
As ardent readers will tell you, reading is much more than that. It’s a long-term focus of gathering information both directly, indirectly or subtly hidden within the text. A long read can entertain, make you feel emotions, gives knowledge but most importantly, it makes you think! In other words; It totally engages your mind while exercising your brain! And all at the same time!
Cognitivel Stimulation — It’s a proven scientific fact that exercising your brain is as important as exercising your body. Cognitive stimulation such as reading, strengthens memory and improves overall focus and concentration. The more often you read, the better the benefits. Reading is very good for your brain!
Stress Reduction — Much like being swept away in an engaging movie, a well written novel can transport you away as you totally lose yourself inside it’s story. An interesting article, informative non-fiction book (or blog?) can do the same thing. They get you pondering and focused on something else, distracting you from the consistent worries and emotions that we all carry with us day to day.
Fact Based — Getting your information from a book written by an expert in their field is likely more reliable than getting it from television or social media. Fake-News, social media opinions, pseudoscience and even world leaders (Donald Trump) are poor sources of solid and reliable information. Today these resources are becoming more and more looked upon as simply entertainment rather than hard factual information.
Focus — You can’t go even a few hours without seeing someone whose not splitting their concentration with what’s on their phone and with whatever else their doing. The advent of the Internet and the smartphone has us multi-tasking and dividing our focus and concentration like never before. Reading (in a quite environment) allows us to focus and concentrate on one thing. Arguably, a declining skill in today’s quick-scan society.
It can also improve your vocabulary and writing skills; Improve your memory and analytical thinking skills. Oh! And for most of us — its fun!
For us Readers — There’s always a favorite book, or books, that we’ve found a personal connection to. In fact we’ve enjoyed them so much we may re-read them over again and again! That is something that I have definitely done, picking up an old favorite book I’ve not read for years and enjoying it all over again!
If some may think this odd? Think of how many times you have watched a favorite movie over and over again? Just like the book (which incidentally is always better than the movie) it doesn’t matter that you already know how it ends — it’s the journey that so pleasing! Whether it be the characters, the plot, the genre or just the way it sweeps you into the story so easily; a good book can do that — and much more!
Of course the Author has much to do with all this and we have our favorite authors as well! In fact, after reading an enjoyable book one tends to seek out other books by that same author, although this does not always guarantee success.
However when we do find a repeating match of book and author we can become very faithful to that author’s name indeed!
SOME OF MINE
Stephen King: The Stand, The Talisman and the 7 book series of “The Dark Tower.” just to name a few! Made into Movies favorites: The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption and The Shinning.
Other Novels and Authors I like: Isaac Asimov (King Arthur trilogy), Justin Cronin (The Passage) and for young teens — “Eragon” The dragon fantasy books by Christopher Paolini. Get your children reading too! They will love Eragon with it’s dragons, dragon riders and fantasy world. I sure did!
My favorite Non-Fiction: Author “Yuval Noah Harari” all 3 of his books including “Homo Sapiens” and “Homo Dues” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century.” History blended with modern day thinking and a talent for looking at things outside the box. Filled with eye-opening revelations.
Published in 2014, Harari’s book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has become an international hit. By 2018, 10 million copies had been sold and the book was translated into nearly 50 languages. It was listed on the Sunday Times bestseller list for over six months in paperback, and was a New York Times top 10 bestseller.
His book “Sapiens” is recommended by Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
HOMO DEUS — In 2016 Prof. Harari returned with Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, a critically acclaimed book that examines probable projects facing humanity in the 21st century. Within two years five million copies of the book had been sold translated into nearly 50 languages.
21 LESSONS —Yuval Noah Harari published 21 Lessons for the 21st Century in 2018. In this book he focuses on our current global climate crisis and other big present moment questions: What is happening right now? What are today’s greatest challenges and choices? What should we be paying attention to?
OTHER FAVORITES: “The Brain: what everyone should know” — by Gary L. Wenk. “Skeptics Guide to the Universe” by Dr. Steven Novella. “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine” by Alan Lightman and — “Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker.
What are some of your favorite books and authors?
SCIENCE SAYS READ!
Studies suggest young children who read books with their parents several times a week, show stronger literacy skills years later. Over a lifetime, reading and language skills obtained from reading, build up and support healthy brain functioning.
Reading activates your brain, making connections from the book to the outside world. Your brain literally building new pathways to new information that your subconsciously absorbing while reading. Over time these neural networks can promote quicker thinking and may even slow the effects of cognitive decline as we age.
Also, reading books, especially fiction, has been shown to increase empathy and emotional intelligence. Whereas reading or watching the news can actually decrease these emotions. — No surprise there?
Science says your brain needs to be engaged, to be constantly learning in order to keep functioning at its peak performance. Reading is a proven means of accomplishing this. Not the one and only means but a proven way to keep your brain firing neurons and making new connections in a world where it’s harder to find such stimuli among our rapid-fire “quick one and done” digital society.
Your brain is you! Dumb it down and you dumb yourself down! Take away its focus, it’s challenges for new things and new imaginations and it will learn to function in this way! Unfocused and passive and numbed by repetitive everyday sessions of television and advertising and YouTube and Social media and on and on.
So read a book! Learn something new! Take your brain out for a walk, past the same-old and let it run wild in the new! Exercising your brain now and then will help keep you young, up to date and firing on all cylinders. A healthy you includes a healthy brain!
So pick up a book and Read! — Your brain will thank you for it!
“I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.” — Sherlock Holmes
THE LITTLE BOY AT THE LIBRARY
Now not all of you will be readers, in-fact maybe not even most of you? Perhaps you never were? Or your life situation has left you at this moment with no time or no desire? You may even be of the mind that books are old fashion and out-of-date? I can see that happening in today’s society, especially among the young!
One day at my local Library, I was searching on the computer for available books on a certain subject when a young boy (maybe 5?) came along and asked me what I was doing? “Looking for a book I might like” I told him. “A book?” he says with his face all scrunched up in distaste. “Why you want a book when you can get a movie?” His mom was watching near by.
Well I says “You can learn a lot from books and reading is good for you!” He thinks about this for a while then says ” If I need to learn something I go on the internet!” Well I say “Books are fun to read” and he says to me in all honesty —”Books are for old people, I like Movies!” and runs off to his waiting mother.
Are books now, mostly — for old people? Does this little boy represent the next generation’s attitude towards reading and books? Has technology reached the point where it now sways influence over written vs. digital reading? I suppose it does. So why does this surprise me? It shouldn’t?
I guess it will be sometime yet before books are completely passé and hard to find, but that little boy has me thinking that maybe the turn is upon us. The next generation, and certainly the next after that, may have no real use or need of paper-made books anymore? Are the winds of change blowing?
So before the winds of change blow all the books out from under us maybe we can still have some fun with the ones that are left. So pick up a book, find a quiet place and spend some time reading. Learn something new, or just get lost in a good story. Either way, your making new neuron connections by exercising your brain.
“Use it or lose it” doesn’t just apply to our body’s well-being and science agrees that reading is one of the best ways to exercise your brain.
SO WHY EXERCISE OUR BRAINS?— Physical exercise is important because it influences the rate of creation of new neurons in our brains. Mental exercise is important because it helps determine how those new neurons are used and how long they will survive.
THE WORD OF WAYNE — Helping your Neurons Survive!