Monday, January 8, 2018

Affirmation from Fellow Readers

Not only do I like reading, but I enjoy reading about reading. My bookshelves provide plenty of evidence, as do my file cabinets.  Whenever I have my students working on a research topic, I model with one of my own. My favorite topic to study is the value of reading. I confess that I don't enter the research with a blank slate, wondering whether or not reading really is valuable. I know it it. I just want others' research to confirm and support what I already know.

I've found plenty of research that shows that reading literary fiction has more positive effects on the brain than any other kind of reading--even if one doesn't enjoy it. The research on the connection between reading and empathy is equally powerful. I've long told students in my literature classes that books can take them places they might never visit--the jungles Africa or frigid Antarctica, but even if they are adventurous enough to reach those parts of the world, only in a book can they travel to Renaissance Italy or to London during the blitzkrieg of World War II.

An article entitled  "The Need to Read"  popped up in my feed today from the Wall Street Journal by Will Schwalbe, who wrote The End of Life Book Club, about shared reading with his mother during her chemotherapy treatments. He has written other books about books, and what he has to say resonates with me.  I think it will give you food for thought too. A bonus is that this piece also serves as a book list, you can check off the ones you've read (and loved) and add to your to-read stack.

No comments: