December 23rd, 2011

planet

read! it's good for you!

I realize I already wrote about "Think" by Lisa Bloom but I have one more entry on it, sorry, I swear I'm done after this.

There's a lovely chapter in this book dedicated to extolling the virtues of reading. I realize, as paranoidandroid said, that this is totally preaching to the choir to have a book saying that people should read. But dang it I haven't felt so good about reading in a long time!

People who read are smarter. Our brain is used to working, like a muscle that lifts heavy things. And the benefits are even easier to detect as we age, since reading can help delay dementia.

It's good for your kids. Kids who read are better in school, more knowledgable (because they read it, duh), are less likely to get into trouble as adults. Everyone knows you're supposed to read to your kids starting when they're incredibly small (I read aloud to Josie in the womb... might as well, right?)

But reading to your kids is even better if it's supplemented by reading in front of your kids. Be a reading role model, curl up together with books. Teach that you need a little "me" time, that there are times when they can bother you and there are times when they need to be independent and learn to entertain themselves.

Nina Sankovitch read a book every single day for a year. Journalists visited her to find out how a woman with three children could find all that time to read. Turns out her kids were busy reading (her 11-year-old's favorite books were "long ones").

Reading is cheap. I've found I can get almost any book from my public library. I go online, put in a request, and it's sent to my tiny local branch from anywhere in the city. I pay 25 cents for the hold. What else can I get these days for 25 cents? I can even get my hands on new shiny best sellers, sometimes with a short wait, but they show up.

And Lisa Bloom makes another great point about the cost: let's say you do decide to go to a fancy bookstore and buy a brand new hardcover book for $25. Let's say you breeze through it in ten hours. That's $2.50 per hour entertainment! That makes a trip to the movies look insane... especially when you consider that you can't sell your movie if it sucks.

Not everything can be a 15-second sound bite, the complicated things going on in the world require thought sometimes. That's just life. When I read I just feel better, I feel healthier. It's like exercise that way.

I read like crazy as a kid. Then in college, I let it fall by the wayside. I felt like if I was going to be reading, it had to be textbooks and conference papers. Then as a new engineer I felt like if I was going to be reading, it had to be non-fiction business or science books. When I finally let the pressure off and let myself abandon some books and read what I wanted, I felt great. The library helps... my rule is that I'll only renew a book once, if I can't finish it in six weeks it's not meant to be. Life is too short and there are too many books.

Reading gives me more to write about. Reading gives me more to think about. Reading makes me proud of myself. I'm really happy that I picked it up again and that I have a system that's working for me. I feel fortunate to live in a time when literacy is just a given. I'm really excited about all the reading I'm going to get to do.