Brain Matters

Daily Foglifter:  The average price for a tall latte is $2.80.  If you have one tall latte, five days a week, you spend  $728.00 per year on coffee.  IF you only get a tall.  Ouch.

Today, finally, we’re going to talk about reading.  Reading is good for you.  Reading makes you smart.  I was going to go into the scientific proof of this, but reading hasn’t made me THAT smart.  It has to do with white matter in your brain and forming neural pathways.  Put simply, reading is exercise for the brain.

Unfortunately, not all reading is created equal.  You need to be thinking. This is not likely to happen when reading Green Eggs and Ham to your toddler. Many of you read regularly and it’s great, but you need to consider what you’re reading.  Based on Best Seller lists, there is probably a lot of Nicholas Sparks, Sue Grafton, and Stephanie Meyer.  That is perfectly fine, but you might want to consider kicking it up a notch. 

The study I read said that the brain is most active when reading Shakespeare.  This is primarily because the use of language is so different that the brain has to work hard to derive meaning from the words on the page.  I’m not suggesting you dive right into “Hamlet.”  That would only bore the crap out of you.  But you can work up to it.

Like anything worth doing well, reading takes practice.  Once you get into the reading habit, try something you normally wouldn’t consider. Take a look at the “Classics” shelf in your local library or bookstore.  Personally, I would start with Jane Austen.  The language is a little bit different, but she’s wicked funny and the stories are interesting and always have a happy ending. 

There are many reading sites on the web.  Goodreads.com is an excellent site for readers of all kinds.  There are groups to join, no matter your interest.  It’s a great place to see what others are reading and get reviews on a particular book you’ve been considering.  If you have no idea what to read, this site can give you ideas.  There are book giveaways, quizzes, and discussion groups.  It’s excellent.

On Goodreads.com there is also a Reading Challenge. This is where you enter the number of books you are striving to read in 2011.   My personal reading goal is 50 books, less than 1 per week.  You can set your goal at whatever number you feel comfortable with.  Sign up for goodreads, and start keeping track of your books.  You just enter the name of the book, choose the right edition, and mark it as “read” when you’re finished.  If you’ve signed up for the Reading Challenge, it will add it to your count.  If you want, you can write your own review once you’ve finished reading. 

When you first start trying out more “serious” books, start slowly.  If you commit to read one book a week, make every fourth book something that challenges you.  Create those neural pathways.  Use that white matter.  You’ll be reading Shakespeare in no time.

Quotes from Shakespeare:

  • He hath eaten me out of house and home.
  • As good luck would have it…
  • All that glitters is not gold
  • Give the devil his due.
  • Oh what a tangled web we weave…
  • In my heart of hearts
  • Too much of a good thing
  • Dead as a doornail
  • This is the short and long of it
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