Reading is one of our most direct pathways to another mind and forces us to create characters and scenarios that activate our own mind. Often we need only a brief outline of a scene or story for it to become alive in our mind and give us new ideas. These ideas may give us a better understanding about the world around us. In this way we partake in the dialog around us and fancy ourselves engaging with those controversial, alive and vigorous ideas that stimulate us and others so attuned. Left under stimulated our brains become entrenched within their aging crusty selves to the exclusion of new and better ideas.
The brain just like much of the body needs a well rounded diet of nutritious fare. Although we haven’t yet found the essential vitamins in our literary resources, we all seem to have different requirements. Some may need the classics with small doses of an internet blog and daily paper. Others may require instant messaging (IM), text messaging, e-mail and various web sites with the handling of few hard copies. Still others may need mysteries and professional journals and articles to remain current in their chosen profession. Whatever the need, there is a plethora of reading materials for us to chose. Recognizing our needs is another essential issue.
We may need to stretch ourselves by reading a few new things each day that we would normally not read. Looking at a random website or newsfeed may expand our awareness and contribute to our literary health. Having options in reading and communicating with others allows us to see further and more clearly than those who don’t exercise these options.
Although options are healthy, it is also important to recognize that there can be unhealthy options as well. In fact some reading materials can be toxic. If you find yourself reading excessively degrading material that promotes violence toward other human beings, then you may be in contact with toxic material that should best be avoided. Certainly, we should be aware of this type of material, but too often we are not selective enough to recognize that we are being drawn down by it. Yes, even some books, movies, web sites and periodicals can be toxic too.
What may be toxic to one may not be toxic to another, but we must all decide how we want to live and whether or not some things are worth our time and efforts. However, reading allows us to sample a broad range of experience without having to live it. In this way, we are protected from reality, but we see how we might experience the reality that is written down by someone who cared enough to write it.
Reading is an essential nutrient for our brains and an exercise that tones and expands our minds so that we can all be better citizens of our nation and the world. Reading for the health of ourselves and society should be more widely appreciated and practiced.