The 22nd Sydney Writers’ Festival runs from April 29 to May 5, at Carriageworks and several other venues across Sydney. ‘Lie to me’ is this year’s theme, asking 45 international guests and 350 Australian authors to examine the lies they tell themselves, they tell each other, and the lies their parents told them, in the meanwhile, explore why deceptions are necessary to survive and how writing could be used to deceive others.
Although the theme of Sydney Writer’s Festival changes every year, the impacts books could bring to us never vary. Writers may use fictions to tell lies while readers are willing to accept the lies then escape from reality through reading those books, but the mental and physical benefits which could be reaped by reading is not a delusion but an authentic thing.
Reading strengthens the brain
Reading is the best work out for our brain. We keep exploring the best ways to exercise our bodies: how to make muscles work and how to require bodies to burn calories or what types of physical activities we should do to get health benefits. However, how often do we think about exercising our brains? One of the brain’s most important functions is the memory, and the reason why reading can stimulate the brain is connected to memory. A study at the Fisher Centre for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation proved that mental stimulation such as reading books and magazines could help protect an intact memory from memory declines, especially with age. The brain is an activity-dependent organ. Doing mentally challenging tasks, both in early life and in later life, is beneficial to build and maintain brain cells as well as the connections between brain cells. These connections are the compensation for the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s and dementia, which in turn helps to reduce the rate of cognitive impairment and preserve memory and thinking abilities in each year before death. Another research published by JAMA Psychiatry looked at 15,582 people age 65 and older who were living in Hong Kong and free of dementia. After tracking for about five years, the researchers found that although more than 1,300 people developed dementia by the end, the risk of developing this disease was significantly lower among people who reported doing daily intellectual activities (reading books, newspapers or magazines) compared to people who were inactive or had no participation in these activities.
Reading improves mental and physical health
When you are indulging in your armchair adventure with a great book, do you notice that you have already in a calm mood and cleared mind off toxic thoughts? Stories and words have a particular healing power to the human mind. Using words to soothe the emotions can effectively reduce feelings of alienation and loneliness, which would in turn help to the relief of mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression).
“Reading provides a way to relax and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. It allows escapism, but reading also allows you to think in new ways and engage in different perspectives, which I think creates balanced thinking about the world around us. I think reading creates a healthy perspective, or a healthy skepticism.” Janice Dib said, who has been a book lover for 15 years and keeps writing her books (unpublished yet).
According to the University of Sussex research, stress levels could be declined by 68% after six-minute every day read. Compared with listening to music or drinking a cup of tea, reading is the best way to relax. In addition, enjoying a good book can help you become empathetic and understand the characters in a more comprehensive and objective way. The worlds created by authors can become real escapes, and readers can sometimes feel connected with one or several characters within the story, thereby discern the emotions of them and experience it by themselves. The strong ability to put yourself into others’ shoes is more obvious within the readers who love to read fictions. Because empathy can be carried out into your life, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) could be boosted while empathy is building, and better interpersonal relationships can be formed as a result. Having a good social network can help you live a longer life. Moreover, the mental benefits reading brings to people can help them in improving sleep as well. A relaxed brain can get you to sleep sooner and faster, at the same time, promote restful sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness during the night. Without a night of sufficient or good sleep, we would suffer some long-term health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Reading enhances children’s development
Reading can help children flourish at school and lead them to happier lives. The research of National Literacy Trust shows that children who enjoy reading in their free time are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than their peers who have no interest in reading (39.4% vs. 11.8%). The researchers conducted the study based on a survey of 49,047 UK students aged between 8-18 years old, and then they found the children who are more engaged with reading and writing are happier than those who have a negative attitude to reading. Why would this happen? Although authentic happiness comes from within, when children’s external situation is going well, it might make it easier for them to add more happiness. Reading could improve concentration. Children are more easily to be absent-minded when they are at a young age. Reading books is a good way to help them maintain a strong focus by grabbing their attention. Over time, they would have excellent concentration skills, which can significantly increase their mental performance. The students who have better mental performance are likely to have significant enhancement in problem-solving ability, confidence-building ability as well as decision-making ability. All of these therapeutic benefits are helpful to children’s development in minimizing errors and achieving their life goals.
Go and find a book to read in place
“Reading enlarges my mind. It makes me less judgmental because it offers a learning platform; a thinking platform and a space to be shocked, delighted, moved, and enlightened without judgment. It also has an influence over my identity and reflects my identity. It helps me to orientate myself in the community, nation, and age in which I live.” Janice Dib said.
Therefore, once you start to read a book, you will know what reading gives you. Time waits for no one, so what are you waiting for? The list of recommendations from Sydney Writer’s Festival 2019 has books for all moods, activities, and tastes. Planning your schedule for this priceless activity quickly and enjoy the incomparable pleasure you have.
Leave your comments below and tell us about your unique stories with books!
Be the first to comment