Actively Aging

Actively Aging

Friday, August 26, 2016

Could Reading Be the Secret To a Longer Life?


This article 1st appeared in Sixty and Me.

Remember when teachers told you reading was good for you? They were right. And now reading is even associated with living longer. Researchers at the Yale University School of Public Health have discovered that book readers have a “significant survival advantage” over those who don’t read books.
The findings of the Yale study are now appearing in Social Science and Medicine. They how that people over 50 who read up to three-and-a-half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over the 12 years of follow-up. Those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die than non-readers.
Of course, even the most avid readers are sometimes at a loss to know what to read next. And readers who are just getting started with intensive reading need to know where to begin.
So with those issues in mind, here is a list of 12 ways to select books or of varying what you are reading.

Pick a different theme for each month and then read books based on that theme

Your theme could be as serious as a literary look at the nature of good and evil or as frivolous as books with brown, orange, and yellow covers (for the Fall season).

Pick a new genre that you’ve never read

I was never a reader of mystery books until the 90s when I saw a list of mystery books that then-President Bill Clinton was reading. Today some of those authors like George Pelecanos, Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke are among my favorite writers.

Pick an author and then read his or her entire catalog

My friend Eddie Supernavage has been doing that for years and has completed all the works of authors as diverse as Soren Kierkegaard and John Gardner.

Pick up books on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about

Select books on a problem you are interested in and become an autodidact. I’m doing that right now with my research on aging and the Baby Boom generation. My wife is specializing in memoirs of women in Muslim, Asian, or African cultures.

Try A to Z reading

Pick a category of books, such as biography. Head to your local library. Start going down the rows, selecting the first couple of books that appeal to you about people whose names begin with A.

Check out book review sites

Reading websites such as Amazon or Goodreads offer you suggestions for new books to read.

Try a Smorgasbord Book Night

Have a group of friends over for tea (or something stronger) and a bit of tasty talk about reading. Have each friend bring a book that they have covered to disguise its title. Put all the books in a basket. Each person then takes a book home, reads it, and tells about it at your next session.

Take a look at book lists

Check out Nobel Prize Winners or The 100 Best Books Ever. Select titles from the list you’ve never read.

Talk to book experts

Head to your local library or your local bookstore. Staff there will be glad to work with you to come up with interesting recommendations.

Choose a good book that will lead you to another

Purchase a book that will show you how one good book can lead to another. I have used bothThe Prentice Hall Good Reading Guide and The Lifetime Reading Plan for years.

Find a book fair in your area, look at the titles there

Of course, you can buy the books, but if you want a cheaper option either jot down titles that intrigue you or take a picture of the cover with your smart phone and then borrow the books from the library.

Use current events to widen your reading

Right now, the most intriguing election in my lifetime is underway in America. That event suggests many reading choices. For example, you could read about politics, or presidents, or past elections, or ceiling-shattering women or business tycoons.
Of course, no reading list is ever exhaustive. Do you have any other good ways to help readers choose books? Have you used any of the ways on this list? What books are you reading at the moment?

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