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Library News column: Four surprising ways books are good for you

Janelle Schuler

Books are simply amazing. Adults who don’t read miss out on more than they realize. Although crashing in front of the TV may seem tempting after a busy day, try picking up a book. There’s a reason they’ve stayed around for centuries. They give back in varied, and often surprising ways.

Books are free vacations. Consider the example of “armchair travel” books, which take readers on journeys to exotic places. The authors have been there and share vivid descriptions of locations and culture. Really need to get away? Science fiction books offer alternate universes or even time travel. Closer to home, a mini staycation could be taking a break from a hectic life to focus attention on a book for a few hours. Movies, TV and the Internet are easy distractions, but for most people they’re just not as immersive or satisfying as books.

Books allow people to think for themselves. Although almost any information can be found online, searching the Internet can actually narrow your views. For example, search engines like Google rely on advertising, so websites can pay to appear at the top of search results. Google also uses online preferences to tailor advertising. If a person has a recognizable political slant in their searches, Google may automatically display more of the same. True, the political books people choose to read may be ones that reinforce their existing views. The difference is making a choice versus receiving narrowed information without even knowing it.

Books can be free therapy. Plenty of valid, popular treatments in mental wellness today can be learned by reading. Meditation and mindfulness are often suggested by therapists, and books explaining how to practice them are readily available at libraries.

Books might even prevent Alzheimer’s. Multiple studies have found the mental stimulation of reading regularly to correlate with a lower likelihood of developing the disease. Go ahead and Google “Alzheimer’s reading” to find a few articles. Better yet, try a book about Alzheimer’s.

These are just a sampling of reasons to read as an adult. Ask a friend, and they’ll have many of their own. If you haven’t enjoyed a book in a while, pick up a short, fun book at your local library and experience the benefits!

Janelle Schuler is a library specialist with the Garfield County Libraries.


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