The perfect cure

Do you have a hard time concentrating? Are you constantly struggling to find that word? Do you forget things? Do you always feel stressed? Does boredom plague you? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you fear that you have low EQ? Well, I have the cure for you. No, you do not have a mental illness, so stop trying to self-diagnose yourself on webMD. All you need to do is READ!

Scientific evidence suggests that simply picking up a book and reading can alleviate everything I mentioned above while providing you with hours of entertainment. It encourages brain neuroplasticity, enhances cognitive skills, and even strengthens cardiac function by increasing blood flow to the brain. Binge-watching Netflix does none of these things. If you’re reading this, you probably know all that, but as I continue to embark on my writing journey, I can’t help but lament.

As an author, the times are tough. I find myself dreaming of producing a novel twenty or thirty years ago when people actually read. It is no coincidence that those familiar names from the glory days of reading always find their way to the best seller lists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans reading for pleasure has decreased by 30 percent since 2004. This is just one statistic. If you want an even grimmer picture, read this article here. The red flags would be frantically waving in any other industry, especially when the competition in the market is increasing. It is not a good time to put out a novel, and it is a struggle to get people to give it a chance when you compete with their god- the all and powerful television. Americans spend an average of four hours a day watching TV, with 50-60+ year-olds wasting more than six hours a day in front of the tube. The same data shows Americans spend about an hour on religious activities, hence the comparison. As for reading? The average is approximately 20 minutes, and again, it’s decreasing! Ugh.

The computer age sprung to life when I was an adolescent, and I was a teenager during the second golden age of television (2000’s). I remember a time before we were slaves to electronics when everyone read. I had shelves of books growing up. My favorites were my mother’s novels when she was young, like The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and the complete 1st edition paperbacks of the Lord of the Rings series (including The Hobbit) with the covers designed by Barbara Remington. I have early memories of my sister reading to me before I could read myself, especially the Choose Your Own Adventure series like Supercomputer #39 by Edward Packard (god, I loved that cover). The passions that make me the person I am today, are all because of books. Now, I devote virtually all my free time to writing, gave up movies, and I personally haven’t watched television in years.

My grandparents, too, were avid readers and always had a book nearby. When they passed away, they left behind boxes of their personality- each book a fragment of who they were and what they loved. During my maternal grandmother’s last moments of life, she told my mother that she was on the Jubilee Trail, referencing her favorite book by Gwen Bristow. This book, with well-thumbed pages and missing its cover, was on the table next to her deathbed. How poetic is that?

Books are magic, and nothing has elevated our species more than the ability to read and write. They elucidate the human experience, give us knowledge, transfer thoughts, bring the dead to life, and help us explain our universe. Books provide us with hope, joy, sadness, love, excitement, and any other emotion you can imagine. They go where we go while also being able to transport us to places we can never go. Have you ever watched a movie and said it wasn’t as good as the book? There is a reason for that. Visual storytelling will never compete with the human imagination, and cramming a book-length story into two or even three hours without substantial cutting is impossible. Heck, even a multi-year TV series has to leave a lot of the story on the page and off the screen (Game of Thrones, for example). Will it be entertaining? Certainly. But, will it give as much value? No.

So if you find yourself frustrated, unfulfilled, anxious, not able to concentrate, alone, bored, or whatever, pick up a good book and exercise that brain. It will help! There are no harmful side effects, and books are damn cheap! There are millions of us authors out there offering you all the hopes, dreams, and fantasies you can imagine and plenty of those you can’t. We aren’t giving up on you, so don’t give up on us!

Cheers!

What are some of your first book memories or those that impacted your life? Leave a comment below!

Published by scottatirrell

Scott Austin Tirrell is a lover of the arcane who would choose a good crypt over a coffee shop. He finds solace in history and tales of yore sprinkled with a smidgen of nature's fury, long travel, and the thrill of the paranormal. His stories place ordinary and often flawed individuals in extraordinary situations that stretch beyond this physical plane. The human spirit's strength to reach greatness against incredible odds fascinates him, and thus, he is often a bit cruel with his antagonist. Certificates of study in psychology, history, and international relations gather dust on his wall, but he has found life to be the best stimuli for a good yarn. Scott has published three works currently available- the Island of Stone, a paranormal thriller, the Slaying of the Bull, a historical fiction set in 1241, and the Dawn of the Lightbearer, an epic dark fantasy. He lives with his wife in the Boston area, a place dripping with inspiration for someone who loves tales from the past and a good ghost story.

26 thoughts on “The perfect cure

  1. Dear Austin,
    thanks for your post and your praise of reading.
    Most reading is done in Iceland. It had a long tradition there from the time of the sagas onwards. People complain that hardly anybody is reading anymore. That’s actually not true. People own more books and read more than ever. This refers to Europe. It seems to be quite different in the US. As an author, I tried to avoid selling my copyrights to US publishers (but my agents signed some contracts, unfortunately) as they pay very badly (f.e. half of the percentage you get from sales in China, India and the EU countries). That shows that writing isn’t honoured in the US and where writing isn’t honoured reading is neither.
    Wishing you all the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A book from my parents’ bookshelf that had an impact on me is “People of the Deer” by Farley Mowat. It is a non fiction account of the near extinction of a group of Inuit (eskimos) in the Arctic due to the white man’s greed an incompetence. Mowat sold 17 million copies of his works.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a great post – I finished it silently cheering.

    You make me wonder if all that is necessary is to have books present where you are growing up. I have a 2 1/2 yr old grandaughter who spends much of her day taking books off of shelves.

    One reason why that first half of the 20th century has such a hold on people is that most of the best books of the twentieth-century were written then. Pearl Buck was popular because she was good [she won a Nobel prize]

    I like to say most novels are weak now – but there are good ones. The Ready Player One book is phenomenal. I can’t say it’s better than the movie – which was mesmerizing – but there is so much more in it.

    I would second People of the Deer as a book to read. Farley Mowat is/was, in my opinion, Canada’s best writer. His account of a troublesome shaman who he got to know has stayed with me for 40 yrs.

    It is heartening to hear that books are doing well in Iceland and at least parts of Europe.

    As for a first book, I can’t name one – there were too many – but I’ll just say that I just finished reading William Hope Hodgson’s little novel The House on the Borderland for the fifth time – it is an SF/fantasy that holds me for some reason I still can’t explain.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Alan, thanks so much for sharing and for giving us a few more books to check out! I think the key is to create a bit of awe around books. I remember my sister reading to me and I just couldn’t wait until I could read myself. It was like some sort of magic that just stuck with me for the rest of my life.

      Like

      1. Maybe it does have to start when you are very young. I remember my father reading to me when I was a boy – and how much I liked it – he died when I was 5, so I had to be younger than that. Maybe when we get full AI – that is, sentient computers – all children could be read to, even when the parents aren’t interested. Maybe a golden age of reading is coming!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I know that the number of readers has been on the decline, but there are still plenty out there. My daughter gobbles up books like candy. I guess it’s up to us as current writers to produce good material and pique interest in this awesome pastime.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post!
    I have been trying to tell my son this for the last few years. He used to be a big reader but when he feels down he can’t be bothered to read. I know it will help him to escape into a book, but I suppose he has to come to that realisation by himself.

    My daughter on the other hand can’t stop reading. She just got out 7 graphic novels from the library and read 5 in a day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He just needs to find that story that gives him wonder! It will come in time. I think we all have that shortlist that resonated with our souls. Unfortunately, the passion for reaching is often quenched by being forced to read. I certainly remember dreading doing the summer reading assigned by school. There is certainly value in introducing classics, but it also turns reading into work- yuck! It’s hard for adolescents to resonate with some of these works. They see a thick book about people in the 1930’s living through the depression, or the like (Grapes of Wrath), and say “why does it matter to me?” But there just may be that book assigned that suddenly speaks to him and a world to unimaginable delights will open.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We went to the library every Saturday. My Mom would fill up a laundry basket with books and we would read them all in a week. I can only think of a couple of books we actually owned. One was Watership Down and one was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I read those over and over. As a family of 10 without a lot of money, the library was very important to us.

    Liked by 2 people

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