Word Up!

By Anna Sachse

Posted December 30, 2009 in Mind Body Spirit

At the end of every year, journalists across the land rejoice because they don’t have to spend any time at all coming up with new topics to write about. You either waste space summing up everything you already wrote about during the previous year, or you tell people why and how to fix whatever is broken—lose weight, quit smoking, stress less, spend more time with family and friends, get out of debt, learn something new, etc. 


Although the end goal of this latter category is to inspire folks to live healthier, happier lives, it mostly just makes people feel bad about where they are at right now—you’re too fat, too weak, too alone, too poor, too boring, too stupid, etc. 


That’s a shitty way to start the year. Therefore, I am going to write about something totally random—why it’s good for you to read “crappy,” “fluffy” or “pulpy books,” such as the entire Twilight saga, Lauren Conrad’s L.A. Candy, most books by Stephen King and John Grisham, or, as my engineerd (engineer + nerd) husband put it, “any and all sci-fi books.” In fact, in honor of 2010 and the beginning of a brand new decade, I’m going give you four really good reasons why. Read on.


1. It doesn’t matter what the subject is; reading is good for your brain, period. It forces you to think and make connections because everything isn’t all spelled out for you the way it would be on a TV show or in a movie, it stimulates your imagination, improves memory and concentration, increases your vocabulary and often makes you wittier. Fancy-pants folks may dis your “Team Edward” T-shirt, but your explanation of how Twilight is (or is not) a morality play on virginity will likely be a bigger hit at a cocktail party than their grousing about the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society in War and Peace.


2. Buying any book injects life-blood into our dying book publishing industry. Books are what record our history, both the straight truth (nonfiction) and our dreams (fiction). Lose books and eventually we will lose an instrumental way in which we teach future generations what we did right (e.g. cures for diseases), and warn them about what we did wrong (e.g. the Holocaust). If it takes a squillion pimple-faced dorks buying the latest soft-core sci-fi novel to keep the entire publishing industry alive so that they can afford to take risks on phenomenal books like Robin Romm’s memoir The Mercy Papers, so be it. 


3. You’ll be well-versed in pop culture. Pop culture is powerful—it essentially represents the masses, especially the youth. Be able to communicate in the language of the youth and you could control the future of our planet. And you can tell the snobs that Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dante wrote in the “vulgar” vernacular of their time so that everyone, including the poor, would have access to their work. Only douchebags criticize what other people read. 


4. Reading is relaxing, especially when it takes you away to other, far more interesting places than your own life, like other planets, ridiculously intricate capers or love affairs with werewolves. Stress has been linked to: high blood pressure, blood clots, coronary artery disease and heart failure; decreased immune function; neck, shoulder and low-back pain; more difficulty and pain associated with asthma, arthritis, peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis; low fertility, erection problems and painful menstrual periods; and skin problems like acne and psoriasis. Paying $15.95 for a new book and spending a few hours in bed reading it seems like a pretty cheap cure.


Happy New Year!


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