Natasha Redford from Brentwood’s Chicken & Frog Bookshop writes for Phoenix FM …
I think it’s fair to say that summer is over. But don’t despair, that means longer evenings to curl up on the sofa, or even under the duvet, with a good book and a cuppa.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the wonderful Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod. If you haven’t heard of it, the translation is “Christmas Book Flood.” I know we haven’t reached December yet, but it’s good to plan ahead! On Christmas Eve, Icelanders exchange and read books over a cup of steaming hot chocolate. What could be better than that? Personally, I think this should be a year-round tradition. Reading a good book is the perfect way to switch off from the chaos of our daily lives and unwind before we sleep.
The act of reading and being read to does us so much good. Approximately 300 years ago, Joseph Addison penned “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” At the time, this was viewed as an unconventional statement. However, scientific studies show that reading does improve intelligence. It seems that Joseph knew what he was talking about. Reading a novel increases the blood flow and improves connectivity in the brain. How amazing is that?!
Not only that, but reading assists us in finding patterns, problem solving, and absorbing new information. Our world view is typically, quite narrow. We live in a bubble of our families and communities. Reading about others opens our experiences to their thoughts and feelings. Our perspective can be challenged. Reading builds empathy. And we could all do with more of that in our emotional toolkits.
Reading also boosts our vocabulary and spelling. New words appear in their natural setting, and we can infer meaning from the context, while visually stamping spellings in our minds. And, perhaps most importantly, reading can make us happy. It can relax and calm us in moments of worry. Research has proven that just 30 minutes of reading can lower our blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress. The power of words is astounding.
So, go on, treat yourself and your-shelf to a good read.