We Are What We Eat, But We Are Also The Books We Read

We are what we eat, but we are also the books we read

We are what we eat, there is no doubt about it, but we are also every book we read. We humans are made up of everything we have experienced in our lives, including every story we read, every character we read, their battles, and their majestic universes.

Jorge Luis Borges once said that paradise is certainly just like a large and endless library. This is an idyllic image that anyone who takes part in this healthy hobby will probably agree with. Reading feeds us and allows us to move forward, learn and turn, and always be a little freer.

When we say we are every book we read, we are not exaggerating. In that part of our mind where we keep all our childhood memories we can also find those books that somehow draw the line between before and after in our lives. Rarely do we experience the same intensity, joy, and pleasure as when we read books. 

This early escape into the world of fantasy, the forests of mysteries and the seas of adventure has merged word for word and picture by picture into the depths of our brains. It largely defines who we are today. Therefore, much of us is made of things that we may have never seen with our eyes, but that we have felt with our hearts. Those are the journeys we have taken in our minds.

woman immersed in a book

Books in your brain

The Journal of Business Administration  published a study that confirmed some of the information we all take for granted, but unfortunately we don’t always apply it ourselves. University students who have read since childhood receive much higher scores in critical thinking, creativity, reflection, metacognition, and written expression. Today, however, we can see that  young people do read, but they do not engage in “deep reading.”

Deep reading is defined as a delicate, slow process in which we are completely immersed in what we read. No hurry, no external pressure. It’s an exceptional ability to “merge into one” with a book by capturing the richness of the text. Then interpreting words does something for us on the level of our senses and emotions.

With deep reading, we capture the details of the text. We enjoyed the narration and the skills of the author. Here, however, is the most interesting part: experts explain that reading like this brings about an amazing process in our brain, synchronization. The centers of the brain associated with speech, vision, and hearing are synchronized during deep reading.

the girl is reading a big book
  • The Broca region, which is responsible for perceiving rhythms and syntax, is very strongly activated.
  • The Wernicken area is also activated. The Wernicken area has to do with the perceptual ability of words and their meanings.
  • Angular gyrus , which regulates perception and language use, is also involved.

All of these processes and several others create sensations and emotions that leave a lasting imprint on our brains.

Books in a world of confused minds

According to an interesting article in the New York Times , sales of adult books plunged 10.3% last year. Sales of books for children, on the other hand, fell 2.1%. Sales of electronic books fell significantly more, by 21.8%. But  sales of digital audiobooks grew 35.3%, and to our surprise, sales of audiobooks continue to grow.

For psychologists, the reason behind this phenomenon is obvious. Our minds are disturbed and we need to do many things at the same time. We need to check our phones, update social media, enjoy coffee, watch TV, read our email…

There is also another small detail that author  Stephen King recently pointed out: people have lost the pleasure of translating the pages of books. Now we prefer to do this with our ears so that our hands are free to play with the phone. This is certainly the reason why he wrote his novel with Hearing .

girl with armpit book

So in recent months, sales of audiobooks have been growing strongly. Audiobooks are perfect so we can do many things at the same time, as we can just put the headphones on our ears and our eyes and hands are free for everything else. This is seemingly “perfect,” but sadly sad.

We are losing the enjoyment of deep reading, and our children are deprived of the joy of immersing themselves in a physical book in the traditional way: turning pages one at a time, in a large, dusty library, or in intimate light under a blanket.

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