A new study from researchers at Yale University has found that reading books can help you live longer -- up to two years longer.
The study called "A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity" used data from a broader health and retirement survey that asked 3,635 participants, all over age 50, about their reading habits.
Researchers divided the subjects into three categories: those who didn't read, those who read up to 3 1/2 hours per week, and those who read more than 3 1/2 a week. They then followed each of the groups for 12 years.
Those in the second group, who read up to 3 1/2 hours per week -- or 30 minutes a day -- were 17 percent less likely to die within the 12 years compared to people who did not read. People who read more than 3 1/2 hours per week were 23 percent less likely to die.
The study controlled for other factors such as marital status, education, gender, and it focused on books, not magazines or newspapers, and so did not make any claims about reading other materials. However, it did suggest that by exposing readers to new people and places, and engaging their minds more intensely, reading novels in particular offers more health benefits than skimming the news or reading online.
Previous studies have also linked health benefits with reading fiction. A 2008 report from the Mayo Clinic concluded that reading
books, especially novels, can help stave off dementia by as much as 50
percent. And in a 2013 study from Emory University, researchers found measurable improvement in people's brain function after they read fiction. The researchers theorized that by transporting the reader into another person's world, and putting you in someone else's shoes, reading fiction can increase empathy, expand your imaginative powers and perhaps decrease stress.
With all that in mind, I can recommend three brand new novels:
News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Set in post-Civil-War Texas, this tells the story of Captain Kidd, a newsman who has been asked to take young Joanna back to her family in San Antonio. Joanna had been kidnapped by the Kiowa and held captive for four years. Joanna has now been rescued, but she doesn't speak English and doesn't trust Captain Kidd. The story unfolds as the unlikely duo faces various hardships as they head south -- and what happens when they finally meet up with the girl's family.
Harmony, by Carolyn Parkhurst. Tilly Hammond is a girl on the autism spectrum, providing a daunting challenge to her family in Washington, DC. When Tilly is thrown out of school, the Hammonds join a commune run by Scott Bean, a man with seemingly magical powers to help troubled children. The story is told in alternating chapters: by little sister Iris when they're in the commune, and by mother Alexandria when they're still in Washington, trying to decide what to do with Tilly and whether to put themselves in the hands of Scott Bean. We all know to what lengths parents will go to help their children; and we also know that some promises are too good to be true.
The Trespasser by Tana French. I admit to being a Tana French fan; I've read all five of her previous detective stories set in present-day Ireland. This latest one involves hard-bitten detective Antoinette Conway as she tracks down the killer of a young Dublin girl, even as she fights off harassment from her fellow Murder Squad detectives.
P. S. You can go to amazon and still get a copy of You Only Retire Once, which if it doesn't help you live longer, will, as Jeremy Kisner of Surevest Wealth Management says, "offer consistently good reading -- like a conversation with an insightful friend."