Do you enjoy reading Harlequin romances but hide them in your bag because they aren't "serious" literature? Have you started reading eBooks because others can't see the cover of the book while you're reading? Do you sit down to read in the evening and immediately feel guilty because you should be cleaning the bathroom, weeding the garden or changing oil in the car? Well, my goal today is to put your concerns to rest. Reading in general is an important part of your everyday life and you should feel proud to pick up any book and declare yourself a Reader!
We spend a great deal of time every spring talking with elementary school kids about how important reading is and will continue to be throughout their life. We try to illustrate for them how the ability to read forms a basis for so many of the daily activities and skills that we do throughout our life, from driving and navigating a car to choosing items in a grocery store.
For an adult audience I might also emphasize that reading is a great activity to assist in maintaining mental agility as we age. According to a Mayo Clinic study of aging, reading books can be associated with reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment. Basically, reading uses and, in fact, strengthens the left-side of your brain, and the study showed that regular reading led to a 30-50 percent decrease in the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.
So, there you have it. I haven't seen a Mayo study that says that cleaning the bathroom carries the same beneficial consequences, so we can all feel perfectly justified in reading that book in the evening and skipping the housekeeping. Although, maybe you want to use the bathroom before you come to visit me at home.
Occasionally I have a person stop at the library desk to chat with me and they feel the need to validate their choice in checking out a simple romance or mystery. Why is there a stigma to reading simple fiction? This past year, we hosted a mystery writer who spent a good portion of his talk justifying his choice to write mysteries. What a shame that he felt the need to defend a career in which he's been very successful. Some people really enjoy reading challenging books with deep concepts that help them to look at a social issue in a new way. Other people look to simple, good stories and characters to help alleviate stress and provide enjoyment and relaxation. My personal opinion is that both situations are perfectly acceptable and they both have their place in the lives of the community. More often than not when someone brings a stack of Harlequins boldly to the desk, I think, "You go, Girl!" Reading is a valuable skill and how you choose to exercise it is entirely up to you. Readers of the world unite.