Reading makes you happy. In fact, reading keeps you healthy, open, energised and helps you get a good night’s sleep.
Oscar Wilde said: ‘If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.’
If Oscar had lived in the age of television he would have been one of those people who believed TV was for appearing on, not for watching.
Research shows that monitor screens of all kinds, big and small, smartphones and home cinemas, deadens the brain cells and softens the synapses. If the grey matter is not stimulated, it is harder to enjoy life’s small pleasures:
- walking in the countryside
- smelling the roses
- morning sex with the sun slipping through the window
When you read a novel, you leave your ego outside the covers of the book and enter the world of the characters. As they confront problems and make choices, you subliminally judge those choices against your own standards and morals. You decide who is a good person and who is a phoney, a cheat, a liar. As you follow the lives of others through the pages of a book, you are constantly growing, learning, developing.
Reading is Brain Food
Reading of any kind is good for the brain. However, psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano at New York’s New School for Social Research discovered that literary fiction enhances empathy, emotional intelligence and intuition; good books help readers to understand the difficulties of others and to view their own problems with greater clarity. The results were published in Science under the heading: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.
Research at Sussex University has shown that reading reduces stress. Less stress enables better sleep, better sleep makes you healthier, happier and more alive. ‘Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation,’ says neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, who led the programme. ‘This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism.’
The heading on this blog – Reading Makes You Happy – doesn’t come from studying research results. It comes from experience. If I am depressed (writers often are), disappointed or angry, I read a book and my mood changes. Writing is a disease. Reading is the cure.
Now I have a question: Can you remember the quote by Oscar Wilde?
Now read a good book – The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundera); Zorba the Greek (Kazantzakis), The Glass Bead Game (Hesse), The Outsider (Camus), The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck), Birdsong (Faulks). If you fancy something erotic, try A Spy in the House of Love (Anaïs Nin) or, if I may be so bold, my thriller Cocaine Confidence. Free this week on Amazon Prime US and UK.
The illustration above shows my bookshelf with about eighty books I have written, ghost-written or contributed to. Writers write alone to be read alone. After finishing a piece of work you are never completely satisfied – it is the nature of creation. Reading something superlative helps sweep away the writer blues and makes me sort of happy.
Please leave suggestions of your favourite books in the box below and share with your favourite social media sites.