Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Reading books – markedly more than periodicals – appears to deliver a noticeable ‘survival advantage’

I totally believe this article in the Guardian:

Respondents were separated into those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who didn’t read at all, controlling for factors such as gender, race and education. The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die.

Isn’t that interesting? You know, one tidbit I remember from reading a book about the Nun Study was that women who showed high verbal acuity as young adults wound up developing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease much less often, even if their brains looked like they ought to have shown symptoms. Yeah, Wikipedia says, “Roughly 80% of nuns whose writing was measured as lacking in linguistic density went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease in old age; meanwhile, of those whose writing was not lacking, only 10% later developed the disease.” That’s part of the bit I remembered. I wonder if that’s connected to the result found here?

This article goes one, Bavishi said that the more that respondents read, the longer they lived, but that “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival”.

The paper also specifically links the reading of books, rather than periodicals, to a longer life. “We found that reading books provided a greater benefit than reading newspapers or magazines. We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” Bavishi said.

Well, speaking of verbal acuity, I do wonder about that use of the word uncovered. Also, that sounds like pure speculation to me. All the proposed survival advantages in the article sound a bit iffy to me, actually. Still, nice to think that everyone checking out this blog post — I’m sure you all read books for over 3.5 hours per week, yes? — is statistically likely to enjoy a long life of reading books.

I got this link via The Passive Voice blog, btw.

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