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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
I 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 !