novels on the brain

I heard part of a broadcast on NPR today about a study at some university that investigated the effect that reading novels has on the brain . I  heard only a few minutes of the broadcast .

Students were the test subjects . The professor being interviewed , the designer of the study , called them ” volunteers ” . I remember my UCLA days when I was one of those volunteers . As I remember , I got class credit for volunteering as a guinea pig , but participation wasn’t always optional in some of my psych and social science classes .  Maybe some of the studies paid a few dollars to the volunteer guinea pigs . I recall my guinea piggism  as quite involuntary and slightly unpleasant .  Oh , well .

So , as I understand the results of this novel research on novel reading , reading novels was found to have a beneficial effect on people . I can’t tell you more than that . I heard only some of the interview on NPR .cropped-keroac-manuscript.jpg

I feel just a little better now that I know these important results . I read a heck of a lot of novels .  Future research will have to analyse how different genres of novels each affect the brain . I hope detective novels are right up there in beneficial results . I read a lot of detective novels .

I read a lot of non-fiction , too .  I’ll have to monitor NPR from time to time to see if any studies suggest that non-fiction is brainificial . Hopefully it won’t prove to be brain-corrosive , although that might explain a lot . wilson 3

I’m reading A. Scott Berg’s recent book Wilson ,  about Woodrow Wilson . Wilson was born Thomas Woodrow Wilson and he was called Tommy when he was a kid .  His adored  wife died soon after he became President  and Wilson , a former college professor and Princeton president , took to reading — this is in the Berg book — detective novels .  He was at his lowest point in life , so , rather than commit suicide , I suppose , he took to reading detective novels .wilson 2

Wilson 1

That made me think twice about my reading habits . Should I be concerned about reading detective fiction ? Is it such a down-in-the-dumps thing to do ?   But then I heard the NPR broadcast about the reading novels study .  Beneficial effect ? Sure . Self-medication that the former college president  President luckily discovered ?   Sure. A year later Woodrow  re-married . He made it through his mental anguish and desperation and survived and mobilized an isolationist country for war . Because of the novel -reading , I suspect .   Just saying .

By the way , the novel I’m also reading is called Dark Times In The City , by Gene Kerrigan . It’s set in Dublin .  I’m about a third of the way through and no one has been murdered yet . Walter was almost killed by two incompetent gunmen in a pub , but our hero Callaghan intervened . He didn’t want to intervene , because the last time he intervened in another conflict he spent thirteen years in jail . But the failed killers have just found Walter again at the pizza place where he sometimes works delivering pizza .  I don’t know what’s going to happen .

St. PatrickI think ,  because I’m reading Dark Times In The City , my brain is  beneficializing  . I can feel it , now that I’ve heard on NPR about the brain study .  It may take some time for full beneficialization , I suspect ,  maybe a few more novels. I’ve got Los Angeles Noir 2   waiting in the wings .  I wish I had heard the entire interview . Then I’d know . Can’t wait !

1 Comment

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One response to “novels on the brain

  1. The excerpted novel tidbit is from ” On The Road ” .

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