When it comes to keeping your mind youthful and brain healthy, reading is a great pastime for people of all ages. Reading has been found to improve your memory, enhance empathy, and increase your brain power. It has also been found to help you be more open-minded and creative. Though one of the keys to longevity is an active lifestyle, rest and relaxation are an important part of that lifestyle. But instead of watching a couple of hours of television at the end of the day, try picking up a book. Your brain will thank you for the challenge of learning something new.
By learning novel concepts and ideas from reading, your brain will start to make connections and see these concepts in everyday life. For example, read a book on architecture and you will look at buildings differently. Whether you’re an avid reader who’s just stuck in a rut or you’re trying to pick up a reading habit, here are some great ideas for good reading material to keep your brain active
Biographies can give you a whole new perspective not only on events that encompass the subject’s life but also on how people think and react to the events around them. Too often we hear about famous people through the media or about historical figures through textbooks. It can be easy to forget that behind all the glamor and politics there are real people with fears, ambitions, hopes, and dreams. Choose someone who interests you and read their biography—you’ll likely never think of them the same way again.
Also while you are looking into getting a taste of real facts, dabble into some history reading. History can be utterly fascinating. Choose an era that appeals to you and dive in. Your brain will get a workout remembering events, people, and times. Some of the most interesting history books trace a single idea, product, or trend. Learn how salt shaped nations, how disease and illness ended empires, and how cultures interrelate.
And while we are at, there is nothing better to accelerate those cerebrum juices than to look into some excellent and fine foreign work. When you are reading the works of foreign authors it can give remarkable insight into other cultures and places. From details like different everyday customs to greater differences like outlook on life or religion, when books are written for other people and languages, you can learn even more if you are willing to open your mind.
But the piece of writing which definitely stands out is what we call poetry.
Poetry is actually one of the most underrated types of reading. Poems really challenge the brain by engaging in symbolism, allegory, and unclear meanings. You should pick up an anthology of poems and choose one poem per day. Spend some time on the poem, read it out loud, and let your brain wrap around the words, meanings, and intentions of the poet.
People may consider literature as something you are supposed to read for high schools, but as it turns out, it is the major read-win that can serve you for many more years to come. The classics are classics for a reason. What we consider classic literature contains some of the best writing in the world. Pick up Dickens and get a double treat: insight into historical England and depth of character. Sure they may feel dense at first, but after the first few pages, you’ll adapt to the writing and be drawn into a different time and way of speaking. Work your brain out by reading older language and longer sentences.
So you may want to check out what is happening in the science world! Science books are fantastic. There are lots of science journalists putting out books that explain concepts and ideas well. It is really a story about a phenomenon. Pick a topic—astronomy, physics, chemistry—and find a book that looks good. You’ll soon be an expert, or at least more educated.
These books are often the most expensive, but your local library likely has beautiful art books from different periods you can flip through for free. Browse through the wonderful pictures in these books. Train your brain to understand different themes, images, and trends in architecture or fashion . Soon you’ll see the influences in the buildings around you or on the clothes people wear.
Feeding to the wanderlust in you, it is best if you read books on traveling the world. Travel books are often funny, informative, and detailed. Check out a few about places that interest you and read up on them. Plan a trip that you may never take. Plan out all the details—hotel, restaurants, sites. Make detailed itineraries and budgets. Your brain will be challenged by scheduling, prices, and the details of culture and history. Or simply enjoy the stories from another person’s adventures (and often misadventures).
Lastly it is amazing how much you can learn about your own religion or even others for that matter, when you read fine work written by great, knowledgeable minds. We hear about religions and places on the news and have opinions of them, but, in reality, know little. Pick up a book on Islam and develop an understanding of one of the world’s largest religions. Or try Buddhism, Judaism, or Catholicism. Learn about the cultures of Central America, East Africa, or Southeast Asia. The more you read, the more you’ll learn—and perhaps the better you will appreciate your fellow humans.