Not All Reading is Equal
Not a Wasted Word sent me an article about how the brains of people who read fiction are different from the brains of people who do all other forms of reading: non-fiction, surfing the Web, Twitter, etc. It begins,
It’s not news that reading has countless benefits: Poetry stimulates parts of the brain linked to memory and sparks self-reflection; kids who read the Harry Potter books tend to be better people. But what about people who only read newspapers? Or people who scan Twitter all day? Are those readers’ brains different from literary junkies who peruse the pages of 19th century fictional classics?
Short answer: Yes — reading enhances connectivity in the brain. But readers of fiction? They’re a special breed.
They had me at “special.” Even though this article wasn’t a piece of fiction (and therefore would not be enhancing my brain), I read on.
The gist of the article is that reading fiction changed your brain to make you a more empathetic person. People who read a lot of fiction tend to be more attune to reading other people’s emotions. (And hopefully not negating them or telling them, “If you think your life is awful, you should think about Harry Potter and the fact that Voldemort killed his parents. I mean, that’s awful. Your life isn’t awful.”)
I read a lot of fiction. I always have two books going at the same time: a heavy one and a light one. Like one that changes my whole mood because I am so deeply into the story (heavy) and another that I skim the surface, enjoying my time with the characters (light). Sometimes the light book is a heavy book that I’ve already read, but because I’m on my second (or third or tenth…) reading, my experience with it has changed. It still affects me, but it affects me like a light book vs. a heavy book.
While there isn’t a prime reading season — I like to read on the beach just as much as I like to read under a blanket in winter — December break does lend itself to more down time and therefore more reading time. So in that spirit, I thought we could all throw out some really good fiction books because the last time I did this, I got a bunch of suggestions that I ended up loving.
So I’ll kick it off with The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Totally likeable characters in a somewhat unrealistic situation, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. Another good one: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. She’s just a great storyteller. I love the way she can weave together lives. And I have to throw in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I like to reread his books. A lot.
What do you have for me? Any young adult? Dystopian societies? Women’s fiction? Something else?