January 21st, 2017| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Last year, on National Book Lovers Day (August 9), there was some encouraging news: “A chapter a day doth keep the Grim Reaper away.”

That surprising bit of news was based on a study by researchers from Yale’s School of Public Health, published in Social Science and Medicine titled “A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity.”

The French novelist, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) once said:

The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.”

Well, reading may not just enable one to tolerate existence—it may actually prolong it!

Sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, the study looked at 3,635 subjects, all over 50. They were divided into three: non-readers, light readers (who read up to 3½ hours a week: average of ½ hour a day), and heavy readers (who spread their perusing over 3½ hours a week).

Believe it or not, book readers survived almost two years longer than non-readers, even accounting for variables like education levels, gender, incomes, health status, and so on.

When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline. Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”

And, heavy readers were 23% less likely to die during the 12-year period in which they were observed. Light readers were 17% less likely. All that to say, along with a healthy diet and exercise, reading contributes a significant extension of lifespan.

Too many books and too little time? Here’s what the study concluded:

These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.”

How this all works is unclear—only an association was shown, not necessarily causality.

Here’s the bad news, though. In terms of reading, as assessed by the World Culture Index, the US is 23rd. India, Thailand, and China are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively. The US, by the way, is also behind Egypt and Turkey.

Nope, the research did not show an increase in lifespan with the reading of newspapers. Said the lead author:

This effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more—providing more cognitive benefit. Reading books promotes the slow, immersive process of deep reading, a cognitive engagement that occurs as the reader draws connections to other parts of the material, finds applications to the outside world, and asks questions about the content presented. Besides, books can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival.”

(I didn’t see anything about e-books.)

I don’t know what to make of all this, but the Bible affirms the blessings of health and longevity for those adherent to The Book, the Bible.

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.
Psalm 119:1

You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.
Psalm 119:21

And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
Psalm 119:45

This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me.
Psalm 119:50

The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psalm 119:72

If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
Psalm 119:92 

How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

Read … and live!

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