A Well Balanced (Reading) Diet

via Teacher Caroline

We know we are supposed to eat a well balanced diet of food for the health of our bodies, but what about reading a well balanced diet of books for the health of our brains? Read on to find out my recommendations for a well balanced (reading) diet…

Books are good for the brain. Believe it or not, reading anything will create new wrinkles in your brain because you are being presented with new information and your brain is having to work (by reading the words, connecting the meaning in your brain, and remembering plots, characters, places, etc.) to obtain that information. Frankly, a workout’s a workout for the average Jane; whether I run, swim, do yoga, or surf;  as long as I’m moving my body enough to stay in shape – I’m reaching reaching my goal. Same with books for the average reader.

Reading for entertainment and for knowledge are equally important. We all know that life can’t be all work or all play. Same thing with books. If all you read are entertaining books, you are selling yourself short by not experiencing all of the amazing things that can be learned in book form. Books are capable of expounding on ideas in ways that news programs and movies aren’t able to. On the contrary, if you poo-poo people who read entertaining books because you think reading is only for learning, I’m afraid you have missed the amazing pleasures that books can bring. Escaping into different lands and lives is one of the most magical parts of reading. Not doing so would be like staying at home all the time and never going on a fun/ relaxing vacation. Can reading be entertaining and knowledge gaining at the same time? In my opinion, it most often is!

Reading (auto)biographies and memoirs can be therapeutic. Getting an honest glimpse into another person’s life can often help you understand yourself better. Seeing how they react to certain situations might help you to see how you react to similar circumstances because you will (most likely) be evaluating what you read, which in turn often helps you to evaluate how you react to what you are reading. It can be helpful to see that other people react to situations in the same way you do, and what’s even more helpful is when they react in a way you would like to react. Having these examples can be useful for your own growth (as well as entertaining!)

Self-Help can help you. Before you skip to the next idea, just take a moment to browse the self help section of your favorite online store (or a physical store, but it you were ready to pass over this section of the post – my guess is you don’t frequent that aisle on your book store trips). Remember that books can be incredibly beneficial in this area because they offer a certain amount of privacy to work through something that you need help with but may not be ready to bring up to a friend, loved one, or therapist.

Books connect people. Ever stuck for conversation at a cocktail party? Business event? First date (or date with your partner of 40 years for that matter)? Talk about the latest interesting book you read! Obviously you don’t want to talk about How to Make Love Like a Porn Star at your business function, but maybe the latest Andrew Ross Sorkin book? (Another example of why reading for entertainment and knowledge is a good idea.) Not to mention all of the cool bookish people you can meet online via sites like Twitter and GoodReads, or through a book club with friends or acquaintances.


Do you have a balanced reading agenda? Share with others below some of the reasons or ways that you keep your (reading) diet balanced.

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14 thoughts on “A Well Balanced (Reading) Diet

  1. I realized a few years ago that I was in a reading rut so I started doing more of what I call “directed reading”. I set several goals for myself i.e. reading all Pulitzer Fiction winners, reading 1% of the 1001 Books list each year. Also, this year I am focusing on women’s literature and memoirs. Next year I am planning on jumping into Russian literature as there are quite a few classics I haven’t tackled in that area.

  2. It’s interesting how this idea has changed over time. We read Dickens in school for education/knowledge, but when the serials were first released, people read it as their entertainment – even people who couldn’t read had others read it to them because they couldn’t wait to hear what happened!

    For me, the best books do both :) I used to love the Laurel K. Hamilton books – she did characters SO well, and I loved the worlds she created, but when they got plain old smutty and repetitive, they bored me to tears.

    • Yes! That is one of the points I use when people eschew best sellers or popular fiction. So many of what we now think of as classics stood the test of time because they were popular.

  3. So true. I find that I am a much more well rounded person becuase of all of the different books I read and I have lots more interesting things to say because of all the books I read. Great post!

  4. I read in moods, but sometimes, I direct myself to a certain genre when I know I haven’t been reading enough of it.

    Right now I’m reading Anne Roiphe’s Art and Madness. And you’re spot on about the memoir thing: it does help you learn things about yourself.

  5. Great list! I usually say that knowledge from reading is just something that happens while I’m having fun. I would never read a book that I wasn’t enjoying just for the information (unless it’s for work). But maybe I’m being too strict because I’ve decided to join the One, Two Theme Challenge exactly because it’s all about reading up on topics you’ve always been curious about.

    I have to admit a bit of a prejudice towards self-help books which I can’t seem to shake off….

  6. This is such a great idea. I love reading everything from classics to YA to nonfiction to fun fiction. I feel like each genre stretches me in a different way.

  7. I like this whole idea, Wallace. I’m going to share your post on my Facebook page.

    I tend to think that I am an omnivore when it comes to reading, but of course, there are genres that I favor above others, i.e. mysteries.

    I don’t know that I am disciplined enough to consciously make a reading plan although I do keep an on-going list of books that catch my eye, no matter if they’re fiction or non, classics or not. I am interested in a wide variety of subject matter so my reading does reflect that, I think.

    There are certain subjects and writers I just won’t read, but I think that’s true of every reader. Much of’ ‘modern’ lit and chick-lit leaves me cold. But I’ve just recently begun to read the occasional YA book primarily because a good friend of mine is a school librarian and urges certain titles on me. :)

  8. Pingback: The Sunday Salon: Balancing My Reading Diet

  9. Hello,

    Thanks for Shearing ! Its really a grate site .

    Though there have many websites I found as a query of my balanced diet.Yours is a Very good and resourceful or even different from others website for anyone who can get a unique idea and more obviously helpful guideline .

    Thank you very much again

  10. Pingback: Our Reading Diet « Year 9 English Mentone Grammar

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