News flash: reading novels is good for your brain.
That’s what the neuroscientists and neuroeconomists are saying — their studies have received widespread press this week.
This information irritates me. Well, the information doesn’t irritate me. The presentation of the information irritates me. The scientists are making it sound like this is a wonderful new discovery. “WOW! Reading is good for you!” And it also makes it sound like the only reason to read a novel is to improve your neurological functioning. We are so obsessed with our health — we make everything in life a servant to it. Religion is good for your blood pressure. Eating superfoods will keep you from getting heart disease. What happened to wild belief, to faith for faith’s sake, to pleasure, to doing the wrong thing for a change?
I think we do become ill if we don’t read. But in ways that you can’t easily quantify with an fMRI study.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner