BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN SHARP
My last post was about how to keep our hearts in shape! (Read that post here!) What about keeping your brain in shape? What is the best way to keep your brain sharp? Naturally, I investigated with science. One solution is simple and backed by science.
All you need to do is ... READ!
If you’re reading this in February, 2021, you know that this month’s been a rough one for many of us! Winter isn’t done with us quite yet. (those of us in the northern hemisphere, anyway). The endless pandemic and isolation hasn’t released us yet, either. The fact that hope and vaccines are coming — yet still out of reach for a lot of us — makes it a little harder right now!
Louie is craving more walks, and I’m craving more human contact. I am happy that I can chat with all of you! Sure, there is Netflix, Hulu, and the like, with the distraction of hooking into a series, or the comfort of watching reruns and knowing the outcomes. That helps our psyches.
There’s another way to help our psyches and simultaneously build our brain power. We can get lost in a book!
Reading does more than give us the escape of television or youtube. Reading improves our intelligence.
This is true for kids as well as adults. (For one study, click here) And it’s not over once kids learn to read, either.
READING IMPROVES INTELLIGENCE
Studies show that reading continues to develop the brains of adults!
READING IMPROVES HEALTH
THE BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN IN SHAPE
As we age, our brains will age along with us. It’s important to keep our memory and thinking skills aka our cognitive function high. What does science tell us about keeping our brains sharp? How can we prevent dementia? (well, maybe we can’t but we can try!) One way is by reading! (Another is by diet…I’ll write a post about this soon)
Let’s get back to reading….my post! (ha)
HOW TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN IN SHAPE? WITH CLASSIC BOOKS
The best way to keep your brain sharp at any age? Read literary titles!
READING METAPHORS STIMULATES THE BRAIN
A metaphor is, ‘a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.’
So if you want to improve the intelligence of yourself or loved ones, hand them a book!
READING CLASSIC FICTION INCREASES OUR EMPATHY
One of the researchers equates it like this: “Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”
DO AUDIOBOOKS COUNT AS READING?
A friend of mine listens to audiobooks exclusively, so she can multitask. She’s commented that people give her trouble about this, saying that listening to books isn’t really ‘reading.’
I ask you, is there value reading to our kids? Does it help develop their intelligence?
The answer to all these questions is…..
I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with a few book recommendations. You can stick to the mystery novels, romances, or biographies you prefer. To be a bit more well-rounded, it’s a smart move to venture out of your comfort zone and try a new genre. Get those blood vessels in your brain quite literally pumping in new directions!
CLASSIC BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
I figured I’d go with ten literary titles in different genres. Yes, these are some of my favorites. Why would I recommend something I didn’t like?
Reading is great for your brain, but you don’t need to labor through The Art of War if the topic doesn’t interest you. You need to actually DO the reading to garner the benefits for your brain. In the end, you should read what you like!
TOP 10 CLASSIC BOOKS
I could probably compile TEN top 10 classic book lists. If you click on the jacket cover pics, it will take you to bookshop dot org, where you can purchase a copy. (I might receive about five cents if you do…I’m not sure, it’s never happened.)
Forget Jeff Bezos! He’s got enough mansions.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
In this American classic, lawyer Atticus Finch –one of my favorite fictional characters of all time– risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime. The story is told through the innocent perspective of Finch’s tomboy daughter, Scout.
This is gut-wrenching, gorgeous, full of symbolism and savage inequalities.
It will have your brain going on overdrive. No wonder it won a Pulitzer!
BELOVED by Toni Morrison
Winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the American Book Award.
Don’t let this intimate you. It’s a great story! The main character is Sethe, a former slave who escaped to Ohio but remains haunted by her past.
It does get a little confusing in the middle, imho, but forge on. It all ends up making sense.
This is a great story, and will help you to keep your brain sharp. (If you opt to pick up a copy of the cliff’s notes, all the better. You won’t miss a thing)
ANNE FRANK DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL
Non-fiction! Some would say a memoir.
This diary of a 13-year-old Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the 1940s is important for many reasons. Without question, her story humanizes World War II.
This emotional thought-provoking book will stimulate your brain.
“One of the most moving personal documents to come out of World War II.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME by Stephen Hawking
Written by the famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, this book provides clear explanations of scientific theories from general relativity to time travel to the creation of the universe.
You’ll feel smart after you’re done reading it! Your brain will thank you!
FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
This title is set in a dystopian future where literature (and all original thought) is on the brink of extinction. Guy Montag is a fireman whose job is to burn printed books — as well as the houses where they’re hidden.
As Mr. Bradbury aptly said, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
LORD OF THE FLIES by Willian Golding
When an airplane crash leaves a group of boys stranded without adults on a deserted tropical island, it’s not long before their attempts at civilization fail and their base instincts take over.
An excellent study into human nature, it explores what might happen if we were left to our own devices without the framework of a society and how humans are also animals at heart. Food for your brain!
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME by Mark Haddon
Just so we aren’t keeping it stodgy, I’m including a modern classic of contemporary fiction.
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes this title captivating and unusual.
GORKY PARK by Martin Cruz Smith
A detective mystery thriller makes our list! I’ll warn you that it’s not funny. It’s grim. The novel opens with the discovery of three bodies in a Russian amusement park. Three bodies minus their fingers and faces. The impossible task of identifying the victims is up to Arkady Renko. His sole clue? A pair of ice skates.
THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt
This is a modern classic. I’d slot it into psychological fiction. It gets creepy and twisted.
Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life — in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte
Literary classic extraordinaire!
Apparently, this book was written as a reaction against the popular romantic fiction of Jane Austen! I find this deliciously enticing, though be forewarned. It is darker and far more complicated than, say Pride and Prejudice. (by Jane Austen) Pride and Prejudice is an excellent read and a kind of antithesis to Wuthering Heights, light-hearted and humorous.
Both books are great!
Wuthering Heights is one of my favorites of the classic 19th C novelists! This book will haunt you long after you put it down.
CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White
This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur – and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn.
The description of swinging in the barn on a rope and falling into the hay will stimulate your brain as if you were there!
This title won a Newbery!
Just because this is written for kids doesn’t mean it’s not a classic. This story will do the trick to keep your brain sharp.
NOW YOU KNOW THE BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN SHARP!
I’ve stuck with classic recommendations above. I wanted to include ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ and Louie urged me to add, ‘Catch 22’ but I topped it off at a dozen.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
I’ve seen that quote attributed to different people. Now we have the evidence that it’s true! (While I’m on the subject of exercise, here’s a post about how to keep your heart healthy. Please take a peek here!)
What is your favorite book of late? Have you read any of the books above? If so, what did you think?