Better Together

The Pleasure and Benefits of Reading

There’s no such thing as a bibliobibuli. Surprisingly, the word actually exists, coined in 1957 by journalist H.L. Mencken. But the meaning is “someone who reads too much” which, seriously, is there such a thing? As Frank Zappa famously put it, “so many books, so little time.” So how can you read too much? It just can’t be done.

Reading, which is in all likelihood the best hobby in the world, has an entire month dedicated to its celebration. March has been National Reading Month, designed to support and encourage the wonderful pastime. It was originally launched in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday to motivate readers of all ages to read every day.

We are aware of and understood the importance of promoting literacy for children. Kids who have an early love of books are more successful academically, and later on, vocationally.

The truth is, however, reading continues to be not only enjoyable, but abundantly beneficial throughout our entire lives.

DON'T FORGET: KEEP READING!

Reading provides engagement, pure enjoyment, and escape. It helps combat anxiety and is also known to boost happiness and life satisfaction. Reading also improves concentration, relieves stress, and improves sleep. The activity also provides the opportunity to interact with others, including but certainly not limited to reading with our children and grandchildren.

These are the most obvious benefits of reading.

Even beyond these perks, however, are two extremely compelling reasons to read.

A Yale Study found that reading books can positively impact longevity…by as much as two years.

Furthermore, research suggests that reading can significantly slow the progression of cognitive decline.

Almost 20 years ago, Robert F.Friedland, associate professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine reported that just like exercise strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones, intellectual activity such as reading strengthens the brain against Alzheimer’s, potentially controlling or slowing the disease process.

Supporting the idea that brain power that is underutilized is brain power that is lost, research has shown that people involved in brain-challenging activities including reading tend to be 2.5 times less likely to have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease than people who favor leisure activities such as television watching.

Dr. Zaven Khachaturian, senior science advisor to Alzheimer’s Association, says that this is because activities such as reading actually “build up a reserve of neuron connections.” This reserve makes it take longer for the Alzheimer’s process to destroy enough neurons for there to be identifiable symptoms of cognitive decline. He said this may prolong the years of “rational life” for people who will develop the disease.

TECHNOLOGY MAKES IT EASIER TO KEEP READING

With the wonders of modern technology, obstacles formerly associated with reading are no longer insurmountable. For instance, e-reader devices including Kindles, iPads and other tablets, have adjustable backlit screens and lighting and customizable font sizing to accommodate people with vision and dexterity issues.

Less high-tech but still effective adaptive devices for readers include large print books, magnifiers, special lighting, and audio books.

WHAT TO READ

While Frank Zappa is right about there being so many books from which to choose, it’s sometimes hard to identify the perfect captivating story. Websites like Amazon and GoodReads provide lists of favorites, divided by different criteria and demographics, and offering up summaries and reviews to help zero in on what you might like.

WHERE TO READ

For residents of Friendship Village, there are abundant opportunities to read alone or in a group.

Within our own walls, reading is prevalent! Check out books at one of our on-site lending libraries.

If you like to chat about what you’re reading, you’re welcome to join our book club which has been meeting monthly for almost 12 years. The titles are selected by two residents who also serve as the group leaders. Occasionally, they will supplement the discussion with a video of an interview with the author. There are residents of independent living who regularly read to or with residents of Briarwood Healthcare Center at Friendship Village.

In the greater Schaumburg area, the Schaumburg Township District Library has Book Club in a Bag for people wanting to start a book club with friends. Participants can reserve 10 copies of a selected books from more than 100 titles, along with suggested discussion questions. The Barn in Schaumburg hosts a monthly book club meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at 10:30 a.m.

JUST DO IT

No matter what you read, where you read it, or with whom you read, just be sure to read. Researchers of the Yale School of Public Health study summed it up best when they said, “The benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.”


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