- By Art Gib
- Published 01/14/2011
When was the last time you snuggled in on a quiet afternoon or evening with a good novel? In this fast paced, stressed out world we live in today, so many of us are foregoing the pleasures of getting lost in an involving murder mystery story with excuses like not having enough time, being too tired, etc. We have traded that wonderful experience for being passively bombarded with spoken words and images on the TV for an hour or two at night and then wonder why we have trouble sleeping. While there is nothing at all wrong with watching TV and movies, they will never replace fiction novels for a variety of reasons.
TV shows and movies do not involve our minds and imaginations like reading novels does. As we read an author’s description of characters and scenes, our minds are filling in the details and recreating those characters and scenes mentally, often based on our past experiences and places and people we’ve known. Other times, they take us to worlds unknown and unimagined, tying together the unfamiliar with the familiar for an exhilarating ride. Reading novels allows us to place ourselves inside the story as active observers and even participants in a way
that TV and movies never will. Activating and stimulating the imagination exercises it to help keep our minds sharp and active well into our senior years. With the stressful lives most of us live, it’s important to find activities that relieve that stress for a time. Reading and getting involved in a good novel is one of the best stress busters there is. Though many believe that watching TV is a relaxing, passive activity and good way to chill out after a hard day’s work, research has shown that TV actually overstimulates the brain. TV programming and advertising is deliberately designed to capture and maintain the attention with quick transitions that stimulate the brain in a stressful manner. Reading a novel, on the other hand, has been shown to significantly reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
Novels are the cheapest form of entertainment that we can take anywhere with us. Even paying the full retail price for a novel from romance to thriller fiction is less costly for the number of hours of enjoyment as compared to renting a DVD. A good book can make the time spent waiting at the dentist office or DMV a pleasure rather than a stressful time-waster. If you haven’t read a good book in a while, rediscover reading and its many benefits.