It’s always gratifying to have what you believe confirmed – to enjoy the surge of pleasure that comes with the self-satisfying sensation of being right. This doesn’t happen to me often, at least, not as often as I would like. But, it has happened to me twice in the last week, once through an article in a popular magazine, and again, through an article published in a scholarly journal. The two articles are poles apart in audience, tone and intention, but both articles confirm my belief that libraries are important and reading is good for you.
The first article appeared in the November issue of Real Simple, a popular women’s magazine, and was entitled “5 Reasons the World is Still a Wonderful Place.” The very first reason listed out of the five was that the world is still a wonderful place because libraries still exist. YES, I thought! In the article, the author, Caitlin Moran, an English journalist, author and television broadcaster, describes libraries as a “magical space…where you can go without a penny in your pocket and be given a room full of worlds.” She should know, since she was brought-up in government supported housing in poor and unconventional circumstances. The public library was her solace, sanctuary and ultimately her salvation. She concludes with the statement that libraries are “humanity’s greatest achievement.” I couldn’t agree more.
The second article that I discovered this past week appeared in the September issue of the scholarly journal Social Science and Medicine and was based on a research study conducted at Yale University. The study, entitled “A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity,” found reading books consistently — even just 30 minutes a day — can help people live longer. The study used data collected from 3,635 participants, all over age 50, in a broader health and retirement study, which had asked them questions about their reading habits. The researchers put the respondents into 3 groups: folks who didn’t read, folks who read up to 3.5 hours weekly and those who read more than 3.5 hours per week. They then followed each group over a 12-year period.
Over the course of the study, the researchers found that both groups of readers lived longer than the non-readers. The readers who read more than 3.5 hours a week lived a full 23 months longer than the people who didn’t read at all. That extended lifespan applied to all reading participants, regardless of “gender, wealth, education or health.”
If I did need another reason for reading, this would certainly be it.
Whether you want to read to discover new worlds or for the benefit of living longer, the message here is simple – read. Looking for something to read? You’ll find it at your public library.