It’s summer, and typically out come those ubiquitous lists of “top five books you must read this summer on vacation or weekends on the garden patio.” As it happens, according to some medical or scientific studies, reading books can help improve your longevity. Actually. it’s every day all year round that matters.
Alongside all those countless anti-aging lotions and potions and other physical and cognitive exercises, reading books is seldom mentioned. An August 2016 article from The Guardian titled Book up for a longer life, readers die later references a study from the Social Science and Medicine Journal, which suggests for one thing – “book readers were found to live for almost two years longer than non-readers.”
Though not containing any quotes by direct scientific sources, another 2017 article on the web journal Longevity, titled Benefits of Reading – Why You Should Read Every Day, Jennie Conner gives four valid reasons why book reading at any age is good for you. There was a time when some job seekers would put reading as one of their interests at the bottom of their resume, but I don’t recall that being a deciding factor in making a hiring decision, (though I do know of a few cases where listing golf was an interview ice-breaker).
As a daily avid reader, (both for business and pleasure), whether or not I get two more years out of life than someone who doesn’t read is up for question. In the meanwhile, I’ll take reading as a great escape into other worlds. Here’s my summer reads this year.
The Temptation of Forgiveness – Donna Leon (Talk about longevity, this is her 27th Brunetti mystery set in one of my most visited cities, Venice.)
If Venice Dies – Salvatore Settis (OK, I’m possessed getting lost in Venice. Reading this one twice)
Gerontechnology – Sunkyo Kwon, Editor (Finishing off the last six of the 24 research studies in this book)
Pax Britanica Trilogy – Jan Norris (History of the British Empire, from the accession of Queen Victoria to the 1960’s post-colonialism. Three books in one Folio Society box set, could take three summers.)
Footnote. Historian Jan Morris, was known as James Morris when Pax Britanica was written between 1968 and 1978. She is now 91. Her latest book Battleship Yamato: Of War, Beauty and Irony, was published in 2018. So, both writing and reading books seems to work for her longevity.