I enjoy visual media as much as anyone, but I believe reading is better for my brain.
Years ago, in a class on brain development, I learned that reading builds our brains by forcing us to mentally create matching visualizations in order to grasp the meaning of words — unlike TV or movies where our noggins passively accept images others have created.
I’ve been building my brain for a long time.
I don’t remember my mother reading to me when I was a toddler; but I know she did because I watched her read to my younger siblings on a regular basis. I do remember her reading poetry to my siblings and me from a slender volume, One Hundred and One Famous Poems. Carolyn and I thrilled to “The Highwayman;” Bob requested “The Charge of the Light Brigade;” and for years, at odd moments, Barbara startled us by gravely chanting in a low voice: “On the shores of Gitchee Gummee; by the shining Big-Sea-Water.”
But I think my life-long love affair with books began when we climbed into our battle-weary jeep and sparred over seating while Mom drove us along gravel roads to the gently aged Spanish Fork library, which stood in a sea of grass and trees on Main Street. We ran up fifteen steps and into the dimly-lit building, where we scattered across the hardwood floors to our favorite sections like marbles dropped from a bag. After searching and sampling, we traveled home with our limit of books, arguing over who made the best choices.
When I was seven, I asked Mom to draw a picture of me. She accepted the challenge and sketched an open book with a braid sticking out on each side, then wrote “Hooked on Books” beneath her masterpiece.
My mother guided my reading, but didn’t control it. She demonstrated an understanding of her daughter and perfect timing when she gave me Little Women and, later, Girl of the Limberlost. I read and reread them until they fell open at my favorite places.
In high school and college, teachers guided my reading, assigning some books I read dutifully, some I read with pleasure, and some I loved so much I mourned when I finished them: Pickwick Papers, The Sound and the Fury, Crime and Punishment.
Family members and friends have recommended many books I treasure: Catch 22, Shipping News, The Poisonwood Bible; others I discovered browsing in libraries and bookstores: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Road, Cold Mountain.
My favorite conversations with my favorite people begin, “Have you read any good books lately?”
Reading has remained a staunch friend throughout my life. I feel uneasy if I don’t have one or two novels, mysteries, or memoirs waiting to be read. I’m still hooked on books. And, I believe, my brain still benefits.
Have any thoughts
about books you’ve read and loved
or the importance of reading?
Please leave a comment.
Recap of Comments on “Dubious Skills”
Becca admitted to a questionable skill we share: when shopping, she’s drawn to clothes she never wears. Mercy and Audrey vowed to try new, fun things without worrying about their skill level; and Janice took time off from planning an upcoming trip to Paris to reinforce Aunt Beulah’s tendency to “sing, arrange, and plan with abandon.”