Below is a great infographic that shows how learning a new language affects our brain. We need to make mental fitness a huge part of our everyday routine. Learning new languages is both a fun and challenging way to give our brains the workout they crave.
If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language – you now have a wonderful reason to get started!
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to read more, I hope you’re just blazing a trail right through a string of amazing books! If you fell off a little bit over the past few weeks, I hope I can help you get back on track.
First a few things about reading:
- Reading is, to the mind, what travel is to the body. It opens up a whole new world!
- Reading has been proven to help a GREAT deal in the prevention of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease.
- If you read inspirational books, they can help lift your spirits to new heights.
- As wonderful as books are, remember that reading is only as valuable as the books you read. Reading bad books isn’t really much better than not reading any books at all.
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read. – Mark Twain
How to Read More Often
If finding time for reading is an issue for you, I have a few suggestions.
- Keep a book near one of your favorite spots. For example, I’m almost always reading more than one book at a time. I’m always (and when I say always, I mean always!) in the middle of an Agatha Christie mystery, so I keep her nearby at all times. I’m also, at any given time, reading a cookbook or book about cooking/food, a historical non-fiction book (history buff), and a self help related book (usually to review for Self Help Daily). I keep the cookbook or food-related book in the kitchen, so I can read it during lunch or breakfast – sometime during the day when it’s just me and my cat Alexa dining. I keep the historical non-fiction book near my chair in the den, and the self help related book is kept by my bed. Wherever I happen to be, during the day, I have a book nearby. It really doesn’t take a lot of time to read a chapter, after all, and they can be slipped in at just about any given time.
- Fall in love with reading e-Books! Whether you have a Kindle or download books to your iPad or iPod, this is the ultimate way to keep your book with you at all times. I have a Kindle, but I also download books right to my iPad, so it’s convenient to keep Hercule Poirot with me at all times. In celebration of National Reading Month, Amazon’s Kindle is just $59, twenty dollars less than the regular price. Amazon is also the perfect spot to order your books – whether they’re physical books or downloadable books. Amazon also has you covered for the next suggestion…
- Two words: Audio Books. Audio books are a dream come true for a lot of people – people who are on the road a lot, people with attention spans that tend to wander, and people who aren’t just busy, but darn busy! You can listen to your book being read to you while driving, doing dishes, taking a bath, doing chores, etc. It’s still “reading” and it’s still gaining information and, when applicable, inspiration and motivation.
- Set goals. Pick a book you’d really love to read and set a deadline. Map out the number of chapters and the amount of time you’ll devote to each. Most people will rise up to a goal, even if it’s one they set themselves.
- Choose a reading buddy. Plan to begin reading a certain book with a friend or family member, with each grabbing their own copy of the book. People always watch tv shows and discuss them, why not treat books the same way? I’m in the middle of a WONDERFUL book, John Adams, by David McCullough and I often wish someone I knew were reading it as well. The topics of conversation would be epic. This book is available in every conceivable format on Amazon and, I just can’t possibly say enough good things about it. This is a book to end all books.
- Read about what interests you. I am a huge history buff, so I can’t get enough of historical books, biographies, and autobiographies. I’m such a history nut, I could read a History text book just for fun. And I have. Think of a subject (or subjects) that interest you, then search out books relating to this subject(s).
- Explore different Fiction niches and authors. If you don’t think you’d enjoy reading fiction, try a few different authors and even niches before you swear off fiction entirely. You’ll probably come across a particular author and think, “Now I want to read everything this author wrote!”
- Get a Library Card and Use it. Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, you’ll probably find that visiting a library is just as fun as an adult as it was when you were a kid. More so, actually, because we actually LIKE quiet now. Library trips can be the most tranquil and relaxing part of your week – especially if you find a comfy chair or table and dive right in… to the chair and the book.
- Make Reading a Personal Retreat. Set aside a time where you grab a cup of coffee or tea and escape with your book. It’ll become a time that you look forward to each day.
- Get great ideas for books to read from book reviews. You can find killer non-fiction book reviews AND fiction book reviews online.
How to Get More Out of What You Read
To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting. – Edmund Burke
I actually asked the biggest book lover in the world to share with you her tips for getting the most out of books. Below is the advice from author, book reviewer, and book lover extraordinaire Emily Dill:
I have one main tip for non-fiction and one main tip for fiction. When reading non-fiction, my main tip for getting the most out of the material is TAKE NOTES. No matter what kind of non-fiction book, I’m reading, I take notes as I go.
Bob Harper book about exercise or nutrition? I write things down as I go.
A book about how to write an entire novel in the month of November? Take notes.
An Amen Clinics book about keeping your brain healthy? Yep, notes.
My main tip for getting the most out of fiction is to read in a quiet area. I know a lot of people brag about reading while the tv is on, kids are yelling, music is playing, and so on, but that doesn’t work for me. And it probably doesn’t work for most people either, because I can promise you they’re missing a few things in their reading. It has happened to me before – when I try to read in a loud or active room, I’ll end up reading the same page two or three times and still missing things.
So treat yourself and concentrate 100% on your reading – that book deserves your full attention!
I totally agree with the tip about taking notes! I am a note taker from way back. Writing something down helps you retain the information – it can also serve as a fantastic reference point, specially for long books or if you’re reading different books covering the same subject.
This actually brings me to another tip for getting the most out of reading. If you find a particular subject that you enjoy reading about, search out as many books relating to this subject as possible. Make a list of all the different subjects you want to learn more about. You can get inspiration for reading subjects anyplace – just pay attention to the things that spike your interest and follow through.
Here’s an example: My husband and I watched a GREAT mini-series on the History Channel, Sons of Liberty. Was this History nut ever in Heaven?!?! By the time the series ended, I had a LONG list of subjects I wanted to delve further into: John Adams, Abigail Adams, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, The Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin… and on and on.
Suffice to say, I have enough subjects to last several years!
My note-taking will really come in handy while reading through these fascinating subjects. I can cross-reference and see, for example, where George Washington was (and what he was up to) during the Tea Party, or what Abigail Adams thought of Benjamin Franklin… that sort of mentally delicious thing.
You should also pause to reflect on what you’ve read with fiction as well as non-fiction. Think back over the lessons that could be carried away from the characters, their experiences, their choices, etc.
A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. – William Styron
I hope this article will serve as inspiration to you in your quest for reading more and for getting more from your reading. Thanks again to Emily for her words of wisdom and experience.
If you have any reading tips of your own, please share them with us in the comments!
All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk. – Lemony Snicket
Also See: More quotes about reading.
I thought this would be an appropriate time to remind you of this very fact as I introduce you to one such expert and his fascinating studies with grain’s effects on the brain.
Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, has a very popular book that you may have heard of: Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers.
If you’ve read much on the subject of wheat and other forms of gluten, you probably realize that the wheat we have today is not the wheat our great grandparents enjoyed. As William Davis, MD points out in Wheat Belly, “… today’s wheat has been genetically altered to provide processed-food manufacturers the greatest yield at the lowest cost.”
Grain Brain and Wheat Belly are filled with information about the negative effects this “genetically altered” wheat has on our bodies and minds.
Here’s a scary statistic: More than 5 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s. That doesn’t even count the numbers who are living with other forms of dementia – If we knew the numbers for those, combined with the Alzheimer’s numbers, I’m certain we’d lose sleep.
David Perlmutter, MD, FACN, Board Certified neurologist, and author of the book Grain Brain believes we can do a GREAT deal to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by our diet alone.
Perlmutter says we should focus on eating lots of nuts, veggies, olive oil, eggs, wild fish, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, avocados and some dairy, but to always choose whole milk.
As for what we should avoid, he says to stay away from trans fats, sugars, processed foods and carbs.
He gives the green light for eating fruits sparingly but says we should completely eliminate gluten.
David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthyones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary 4-week plan, GRAIN BRAIN teaches us how we can reprogram our genetic destiny for the better.
GRAIN BRAIN is a #1 New York Times bestseller and a finalist for a 2013 Books for a Better Life award.
Reviews for Grain Brain:
“Dr. Perlmutter takes us on a detailed tour of the destructive effects that ‘healthy whole grains’ have on our brains. Modern wheat, in particular, is responsible for destroying more brains in this country than all the strokes, car accidents, and head trauma combined. Dr. Perlmutter makes a persuasive case for this wheat-free approach to preserve brain health and functioning, or to begin the process of reversal.” —William Davis, MD, author of Wheat Belly
“If you want to boost your brain power, keep your memory, and lift your mood and energy, as well as heal from a host of other common complaints, Dr. Perlmutter is your guide. This is the definitive instruction book for the care and feeding of your brain!” —Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution
“Dementia and many other brain diseases are not inevitable, nor are they genetic. They are directly and powerfully linked to a diet high in sugar and grains. Grain Brain not only proves this, it also gives you everything you need to know to protect your brain–or a loved one’s–now.”–Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
If you’re interested in learning more about Grain Brain, click through one of the links or the picture at the top.
Coming Next Week: My review of Wheat Belly!
If you’re as interested in mental fitness and brain health as I am, you’ll answer this question with a question of your own: How soon can we begin?!
Fortunately, you can begin the second you get your hands on this outstanding book. Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind is actually more than a book, if we’re being honest here. It’s more of a workout program for the part of our body that is probably taken more for granted than any other part. Which is perfectly ridiculous when you consider that it runs the whole shebang.
Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.
Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they’ve sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they’ve learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they’ve designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.
Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):
· Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
· Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
· Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
· Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
· Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.
Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin! – Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind
Well, you get the idea. We’re talking about experts in their chosen field.
MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE is in malls across the country. They’ve been featured in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, USA Today, and Wired, as well as on the Today show and Martha Stewart Living. Like I said… experts.
While the book is flexible, the cover is made of a very sturdy material – it isn’t the type of “romance novel” paper covers that dog-ear or tear. It’s ideal for curling up in a comfy chair with a pencil and a hot Chai Tea Latte as you treat your mind to a FUN and STIMULATING workout. I’m, perhaps, more familiar with brain games and brain puzzles than the average person. Another one of my blogs (“Out of Bounds“) involves mental fitness and brain health. While doing research for the articles on “Out of Bounds,” I’ve bought and used countless books with “brain stimulating” puzzles.
Frankly, there are quite a few on the market that are outstanding. However, the puzzles throughout Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind are different from other puzzles I’ve seen in other books. Bend Your Brain does a much better job of letting you know WHY you need each type of puzzle. I also love the fact that the puzzles address the five key brain categories (visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory).
What good would it be to focus on just one or two?!?!
If I were to recommend one book for the individual who is interested in protecting and strengthening their mind, this would be the book. The puzzles are a PERFECT blend of challenging, very challenging, and OMG challenging. What’s more, they’re a lot of fun!
If you’re looking to strengthen your mind and memory, increase self-confidence, and even improve your problem-solving skills, Bend Your Brain shouldn’t just be the next book you buy… it has to be the next book you buy.
Click through and learn more about Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind. Trust me, this is one you and your brain are going to love.
Never stop learning!