I don’t like calling people stupid, but… 😉
I can’t help but love this quote. Reading books may seem like nothing but a hobby or that thing that socially awkward people do (don’t act all cool and try to pretend that you aren’t…I see right through that act 😉 ), but reading is actually making you smarter.
I don’t just mean if you read biographies and encyclopedias for fun. Reading plain old fiction makes you smarter too. (Wait, did I just call fiction plain? Please forgive me.)
Here’s how it works.
Have you ever read a book where you were so enthralled with the story that you felt like everything was happening to you? You were shooting arrows with Katniss, jumping trains with Tris, and throwing the ring into Mount Doom with Frodo.
Reason: your brain actually believes that you have experienced it.
When we read, our brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. Whether reading or experiencing it, the same neurological regions are stimulated.
Of course there is some part of our brain that recognizes that this is not actually happening to us. Otherwise, we would all be terrified to read. I mean, do we actually want to live through the Hunger Games?
But the point is, there is a huge part of us that experiences the story in the same way the characters do. Their heart is beating, our heart speeds up. They get in an argument. We stand up for them in our head (or out loud…I won’t judge). They lose someone they love. We cry.
Lets face it. These stories are real to us.
But how does thinking things are real that aren’t real make us smarter? Isn’t that called schizophrenia?
Stories makes us smarter because we can experience things through fiction that we never could in our own lives, giving us a vast amount of knowledge we wouldn’t otherwise have. Through stories we learn that sometimes we have to sacrifice ourselves for those we love (Katniss), sometimes we have to do what we think is right for our lives even if everyone is against it (Tris), and sometimes even the smallest of us can do things that change the world (Frodo).
Fiction teaches us that if we work together we can accomplish great things. It shows us that love is greater than wealth and forgiveness better than revenge. It inspirers us to be better people and do greater things.
Without books and the characters in them, we would be close-minded little people who trudge through our daily lives never able to grasp concepts like hope, love, faithfulness, compassion, and sacrifice.
Stories call us to be better people and help us understand the world a little better. Most of all, it teaches us to be empathetic towards others.
Being “smart” can mean a lot of things, but the most important thing you can spend brain power on is understanding and helping other people.
So if you’re reading (or writing) a book right now, I’d say you’re pretty smart. 🙂
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