YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ: RESEARCH REVEALS THE IMPORTANCE OF WHAT YOU’RE READING
Are you a tabloid loving, pop culture obsessed, meme and GIF intrigued person? Do you like sensational novels to pass the time?According to a new study published in the Journal of Business Administration in May 2016, your love for “light reading,” and web-based aggregators like Reddit, Tumblr and BuzzFeed may not be doing you any good.
The researchers concluded that what students read in college directly affects the level of writing they achieve. In fact, students who pick up academic journals, literary fiction, or general nonfiction wrote with greater syntactic sophistication than those who preferred the former options. Furthermore, the highest scores came from those who resorted to academic journals, and the lowest to solely web-based content.
But then again, “good writing” is often subjective. What we’re really talking about here is whether our overall ability to convey what we want to say comes across well to the masses.
Why You Need To Start “Deep Reading”
As opposed to light reading, which involves little more than comprehending and decoding words, deep reading involves reading that is slow, immersive, emotional, and morally complex. When you are deep reading, you are absorbing language rich in detail, allusion, and metaphor. This style of reading works to engage the part of the brain regions that allow the reader to feel as though they are experiencing the event.
It’s thought of as an exercise that promotes brain health — boosting your levels of empathy because you practice reflection, analysis, and personal subtext. Light reading lacks these meaningful attributes. Online blogs, for instance, are said to lack a genuine voice, viewpoint, and analysis that provokes deeper thoughts. Essentially, you’ll likely forget what you read in mere minutes.
Likewise, Stanford University researchers concluded the benefits of deep reading as opposed to light reading. They found that close literary reading gives your brain a workout in multiple complex cognitive functions. And while simple pleasure reading increases blood flow to different areas of the brain, deep reading proves more of an effective brain exercise.
Why You Should Read Poems
An article published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies reported that more emotionally charged writing works to arouse several regions in the brain that respond to music. When comparing reading poetry and prose, researchers found that poetry activates the posterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobes — both of which are linked to self-analysis.
For the study, volunteers also read their favorite poems, which stimulated parts of the brain associated with memory. These areas of the brain, predominantly located on the right side, had already been shown to provoke “shivers down the spine” as a result of an emotional reaction to music.
Why You Should Read Literary Fiction
Recent experiments have revealed that reading literary fiction makes way for better performance on tests of affective theory of mind, or understanding others’ thinking and wellbeing.
The study published in the International Journal of Business Administration found that this type of reading enhances theory of mind, which may be influenced by a higher amount of engagement with real works of art as opposed to reading magazine articles, interviews, and online nonfiction reporting.
Pick Deep Reading Over Watching Television
When you turn on the TV, you’re signaling your brain power to shut down. Likewise, reading lightweight material for entertainment simply doesn’t fire up your writing brain to help you become a better writer. So, rather than turning on the tube or scrolling through articles on Facebook, spend more time deep-reading literary fiction and poetry.