The positive benefits of reading are too many to list in a single post. As people say, reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Of course, I’m not talking about daily “smartphone reading,” as a tweet, Instagram post, a text message from a friend or any other social media posts. I’m talking about the type of reading considered a pleasure time and enjoyment. Those moments of concentration that gets you acquainted with a book and connect you with a single story; its plots and characters from the moment you open the first page.
True story: Several years ago, something unexpectedly bad happened to me. My memory was the most affected. I couldn’t function as before; therefore, I became obsessed with quick cognitive recovery. I had the best neurologist treating me. A young doctor believer of modern medicine but also of alternative methods. This neurologist told me that besides memory therapy; the best thing I was able to do for my brain was never to stop reading. Because staying mentally active through reading would renovate and repair the brain.
I also tried all sorts of new activities: learning a new language, writing my thoughts on a notebook, painting, dancing, outdoor activities and of course reading. I invested in companies like Lumosity and CogniFit which function as online exercise programs for the brain and memory. These apps have become popular among people of all ages. Some of the incredible benefits were more focus, concentration, and alertness. We tend to forget that our brain is a muscle and like any other muscle, it needs frequent exercise practice required to keep it healthy.
Besides reading, If you want to learn about improving your mind, then you must watch this YouTube TEDx Talk from Psychiatrists Daniel Amen. Based on his book – Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.
I’m a witness of what determination and a strong will can do for improvement and recovery. There are plenty of tools and apps targeting students with concentration problems or senior citizens with memory problems. I would say if you don’t have the money or the technology then try the old ways of reducing TV hours, get yourself a library card, start a daily journal and take more walks in the park. I guarantee that you’ll start seeing improvements. Our modern habits of TV entertainment, long seating hours and frequent strolling in our cell phones are destroying our brains.
It doesn’t matter how big is the chaos in your life. A good book will make all disappear. When you find ourselves concentrated into a great story; a fantastic book exercises the imagination, creativity and provides entertainment. It takes the mind away from the present and helps with relaxation and learning. My favorite “Me, Myself and I” moment is when I sit in a quiet corner holding a cup of tea, while I get lost with a great story.
My Recent Favorite Books:
Paris Time Capsule or A Paris Apartment, both based on the true story of a beautiful apartment abandoned in Paris for seventy years. This beautiful apartment was opened for the first time, and it was discovered that it belonged to a Parisian Belle Époque courtesan who left hidden secrets, a story of romance, history, and mysteries inside the apartment. I devoured both novels in a couple of days. These books were incredibly fun to read. Great stories.
Reading contributes to entertain and replenish the brain with new data and information. The more valuable information you feed your brain, the more engaged the mind has to work, confront new obstacles and examine upcoming challenges. Therefore, be selective with your reading choices.
There is evidence that book lovers can make their brain come alive with emotions and senses stimulated through reading. A similar advantage for those which prefer listening to a good book. Let’s say through Audible.com. The brain gets to “light up” while hearing a narrated story. The central part of the brain which process language gets activated. Reading makes you connect to real-life experiences archived in the memory. While reading or listening to a new story, the mind gets to believe at the moment that the story has been lived or experienced.
Every time I read a book, I end up remembering a series of situations: location described, characters and episodes. Focusing on a single subject is vital for our brains to confront modern days communication.
Day by day, our mind is split into several tasks, work, and assignments. Think of yourself now, while you are reading this on your computer or smartphone. How many more tabs do you have open? Any apps? There is so much to unlearn. Communication nowadays is an avalanche of information from all directions and sometimes taking us nowhere. It’s an illusion that makes you believe that by being super active at the same time then the mind must also be learning and processing information at the same speed. Have you heard the term: “Concentrate on one single task for better results”? It applies to your habits as well.
However, when you read a book what happens? You are engaged in a single task. Just a unique story at that precise moment. Such solitude of attention is excellent and healthy to improve your memory and gain focus.
We also learn how to relate to others while reading. It increases the capacity to reason what others are thinking by reading into people’s feelings. As we let go of the mental distortion in the real world. In-depth reading allows us to sense what the characters feel within the story. Reading makes us more empathetic and increases our awareness of others.
The National Institute on Aging stated that some factors associated with Alzheimer could be prevented. Evidence suggests that activity as reading has enormous cognitive benefits. People who don’t exercise their brain stand a chance of losing brain power. Reading engages the mind and prevents inactivity; which prevents the likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer.
Blindness by Jose Saramago
I recently read a book called Blindness by Jose Saramago, a compelling fictional story about a deadly epidemic making everyone exposed to the disease, to become blind. In the story, people who became sick were collected and secluded in a hospital to avoid spreading the virus to the rest of the community.
In the middle of that blindness, the victims started showing up their real humanity and spirit. Except for one woman at the hospital, who was able to see and witnessed the behavior by those affected. It is through her eyes and her narrative story that we learn the behind scene among the blinds.
This book talks of blindness as a physical disability, but also as a cultural, ethical and moral problem. Do we live in a society blind with the pain of others? This book left me speechless with the similarity with our modern world. I couldn’t stop reading. Blindness is the type of book that makes you analyze the details in life. It got me thinking about the privilege of our senses, and the many things we take for granted on a daily basis.
If you close your eyes, would you still identify the sound of the rain? How about the intensity of the thunder and lightning? Or the smell of the earth getting wet from the rain? And the sensation of walking in mud? Would you recognize the particular sound of the steps of that person you love approaching?
We do so much talking throughout the day. We carry that egocentric habit of exposing others constantly to our words and thoughts. And by doing that, we forget how to hear and listen to our surroundings, our bodies, and other people. If we go blind today, what would save us: the way we often talked or how we listened?
The Time in Between By Maria Dueñas
I cannot write enough about how much I enjoyed this book called The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas. The Time in Between is about a young woman, Sira Quiroga. She has been a seamstress since childhood. As a girl in love, she leaves her old boyfriend, moves to another country with her new lover, learns to survive being abandoned and penniless, build a reputation as a high-class seamstress and end up becoming a spy to prevent an upcoming war.
I could not put this book down. Each new chapter was even more engaging than the last one. It became even more enjoyable when I recently discovered the TV series on Netflix! I rarely watch TV, but this series got me glued for days thanks to the book. The series has the same name as the book, The Time in Between. The actors were incredible, and each episode has an addictive effect, like in the book. It is an exquisite story, and if that is not enough then just wait until you see the character “Ramiro” on the screen. Ha! I was drooling.
Note From An Introvert:
I do not leave home without a good book, in the case of “end-to-the-world” scenarios like finding myself hanging out with a group of people who are regularly gossiping and enjoying other people’s problems (kidding). It is preferable to talk about new books, articles, people’s interest or hobbies. I prefer to be engaged in an extended conversation about dreams, ideas, questions or good books.
Here is something that I believe: Energy and vibration are food to our souls. We must defend the person we want to become or act against what we do not wish to do. By firmly choosing between engaging or blocking superficial behavior. If the experience is soul-drenching, energy-sucking, contagious or forcing involuntary participation that destroys your vibe.
Then maybe, just maybe, we need to get creative with ways on how to politely say no. I do not feel sorry for finding a way, to walk away from engagements that make me feel uncomfortable or destroy others. And believe it or not, choosing well how you spend your time and saying NO to things that might stress you are very healthy for your brain as well.
Reading instead can help you understand other cultures, provide you with a mental replica of real-life scenarios and expertise. It allows us to explain new worlds in our minds. In resume, reading makes it possible to visualize and understand other cultures and reduce prejudice. The benefits of reading are endless.
What book would you add to the list? What are you currently reading?
Thank you kindly!
All opinions are my own.