Benefits of Reading: Revisited

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I believe this topic to be important, so I wish to revisit it again.

I have previously written about the happiness of reading, a pleasure I hope everyone, or at least, most people experience. As I wrote before, I consider reading to be one of the main joys of life.  Reading is one of the most essential and, at the same time, the most sublime of pleasures.  Reading can take us places we have never been, tell us stories we have not known, and let us experience the lives of many other people.

In addition to the pleasures of reading, I also want to consider the benefits of reading. I think the first, and perhaps most obvious, value is that of education. Regardless of where the reading is done, or if it is for class or for self, all reading informs the reader in some way. As a Professor of English Literature, I teach many books in my courses at Lehigh University and the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College–and for me, this is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life, to share books and explore them with students.

While there are a myriad of ways to learn in life, reading still stands out as the primary, and most efficient, way of gaining information. (I am not in any way discounting the importance of learning through experience.) Readers can learn about areas of study that exist far outside of their particular areas of understanding or expertise. For example, I am a student of English literature, but I love reading books about quantum mechanics and the extraordinarily esoteric world of String Theory. I do not understand these ideas the way a physicist would, but I can still appreciate the ideas from books aimed at intelligent, non-specialist readers. Such reading allows the book lover to explore an almost unlimited range of ideas.

In addition to education, I think there is a second and equally important value to reading. I have read numerous articles recently about studies suggesting that people, who read, especially fiction, develop more empathy than those who do not read (Chiaet). The overall point of the results of this study, as well as others, is that people who read fiction tend to learn to identify with other human beings and their problems. This is what many of our parents taught to us when they said that we needed to learn to walk in the shoes of other people. It is the basic idea of trying to understand how other people think and feel. Even without these scientific studies, I would assert that fiction helps us to develop empathy.

What do you think about this? Do any of you have other suggestions about the benefits of reading? I would enjoy seeing your ideas.

Works Cited

Chiaet, Julianne. “Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy.” Scientific
American.Com. October 4, 2013. Web.

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Quotations on Service to Others

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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

                                                                       Mahatma Gandhi

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

                                                                        Barack Obama

 

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“Life is for service.”

                                                                        Fred Rogers

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“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

                                                                        John F. Kennedy

Happy Thanksgiving–What Are You Thankful For?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Please remember to recognize the positives and the blessings in your lives.

Enjoy your feasts, your gatherings, and your traditions. And please remember to give thanks to those who help us in many ways. So many are away from home, friends, and family, and we should all give them a moment of thanks.

Please try to remember those who are less fortunate, and try to find some kindness and to continue to spread it throughout the year.

To my friends, including my many blogging friends, and family, –thank you!

I would also like to ask all of you:  For what are you thankful?

 

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Available on Amazon

 

Quotations on Gratitude

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

                                                                              Marcel Proust

 

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“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

                                                                           Maya Angelou

 

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“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

                                                                            John F. Kennedy

 

World Kindness Day

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November 13 is World Kindness Day, a time that is designated to try to help people in the world be kinder to each other. It may seem like a basic idea, but in the chaotic and, often vicious, world which we inhabit, it is a very good idea. Too often, people are absorbed into their own lives and do not realize that helping other people, simply for the sake of doing it, can make both the helper and the world a much better place. A simple action can extend far past its initial occurrence and spread, like a wave traveling through space, to impact many others.

Take the time today to do one kind thing for another person. It does not have to be a large action; a simple act of kindness has the same importance.

And here is another idea: extend being kind into every day. Try to make being kind a part of your life.

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Quotations on Empathy and Compassion

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“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

                                                                       James Baldwin

 

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“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”

                                                                      Theodore Roosevelt

 

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“I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.”

                                                                      Mahatma Gandhi

Favorite Christmas Movies: Part 1

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This is a post that I have used before, but given the season of the holidays, especially at a time when giving as opposed to greed should be happening (although that should always be  the case), I thought I would repost this series.

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There are so many aspects of this holiday season that are wonderful to me: getting together with loved ones, friends and family alike; the spirit of giving that I hope continues to grow; celebrations; the holiday music; and the memories of happy times.  Among the favorite memories I have are a few specific Christmas movies.

The movie I will talk about today is Scrooge with Albert Finney as the star; he does a magnificent job in his performance as the miserly and misanthropic loan-shark. This musical version of A Christmas Carol is one of the finest filmic adaptations of the classic Christmas Eve ghost story and morality tale.  This film follows  the story closely with Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, of Christmas Present, and of Christmas Future. Among the movies best songs are Scrooge singing “I Hate People” which clearly shows his despicable and greedy nature,  “Thank You Very Much” in which a tap dance is done on Scrooge’s coffin in the future, and “I Like Life” in which the ghost of Christmas Present teaches Scrooge about experiencing life as well as having empathy for others.

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This movie does an excellent job of showing Dickens’ critique of a greed based society and one that did little or nothing to help alleviate the enormous difficulties of the poor.  When first confronted by the ghost of his dead partner Marley, Scrooge tells him that he was always a good man of business.  Marley’s ghost responds, “Mankind should be our business.”  This is a sentiment that stands today.  We should be putting the good of humanity above the pursuit of greed.

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I was a teenager when this movie was first released in 1970, and I loved seeing it with two of my closest friends.  We were captivated by the music and the story, and it remains as powerful to me as when I first saw it. If you have never had the opportunity to see this particular film, I give it my highest recommendation.

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I also remind all of us, in paraphrasing the Master Charles Dickens, that we must always remember to make the good of others our business. That matters more than accumulation of wealth.