No. 1303



One time I heard a story about this man who said he could remember quotations but he couldn’t remember who said them. He said he could not remember if it was Will Rogers or Elizabeth Taylor who said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
Hope you will forgive me for this little bit of levity to introduce my topic today, “Reading Sharpens the Mind,” because an improved memory is definitely one of the benefits of an avid reader. But that’s just for starters, because there is another benefit that many people do not know about. When you hear what it is, I hope you will begin to read a lot more than you do now.
According to a study at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, mental stimulation like reading can help protect memory and thinking skills, especially with age. The authors of the study even suggest that reading every day can slow down late-life cognitive decline, keeping brains healthier and higher functioning for longer. The act of reading does a number of things that helps heighten overall brain function and increase memory. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, found that it can lower the levels of beta amyloid, a brain protein involved in Alzheimer’s, by keeping the mind cognitively stimulated.
Would you believe that 500,000 people in our nation die each year from this dreaded disease? This is one good reason to have a committed reading program and read on a consistent basis. Reading has also been linked to slowing mental decline by keeping important parts of the brain working, and improving overall mental flexibility, an important component to developing and retaining memory.
Now, with that said, let me turn our attention to what we read, because while we are free to choose our own reading material, a lot of people read trash and it does not help in terms of being more successful and having a better quality of life. Back when I was selling motivation programs for a living, I got most of my information from listening to cassettes. I later developed a good reading program and now have a fine home library.
While a lot of people are using electronic media to get their information, I will confess that I am “old school” and love to have a book in my hands while reading it. After a conversation with former Arkansas Razorback football coach Ken Hatfield, I remembered one thing he said: “To really get the message in a book, we have to read it seven times.” Now, I go back and read the best books I have several times. The key to learning is repetition, and we don’t really know anything if we can’t remember it.
Obviously, to write this column each week I have to do a great deal of reading. In the process I have acquired a great number of good books and have included a list of titles in a couple of books I have written. Before concluding, I would like to share some of the titles with you. You can purchase these books from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and your local library will probably have them.
My first book is always The Holy Bible. The rest of the list follows: 2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. 3. A Game Plan for Life by Coach John Wooden. 4. Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson. 5. See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar. 6. John Adams by David McCullough. 7. He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado. 7. The Thread that Runs So True by Jesse Stuart. 8. A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. 9. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey.
It’s true: Readers are winners, but it’s good books that make the difference.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)