So you can read my books

Friday, August 17, 2012


"What wound did ever heal but by degrees?," wrote Shakespeare.

Plato wrote, "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."

“If you would have me weep,
you must first of all feel grief yourself.”
~ Horace

1.) Each of these quotes made you reflect. IT MAY HAVE ALSO EXTENDED YOUR LIFE!

The world is gradually dividing into two populations.

Not the “haves” and “have-nots” of the political agitators. This is something much more precious than mere money: It’s those who learn and those who don’t.

In bald numbers, educated men live 14 years longer, on average, than uneducated men.

Educated women live 10 years longer, on average, than uneducated women.

But learning minds are not limited to those with degrees ... learning minds are merely those who read, reflect, and learn from the prose.


Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds, according to new research.

And it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, research found.

Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.

Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis.

Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.

Listening to music reduced the levels by 61 per cent, have a cup of tea of coffee lowered them by 54 per cent and taking a walk by 42 per cent.

Playing video games brought them down by 21 per cent from their highest level but still left the volunteers with heart rates above their starting point.


The idea that literature can make us emotionally and physically stronger goes back to Plato.

But now book groups are proving that Shakespeare can be as beneficial as self-help guides. There is a rise in bibliotherapy.

Medical staff tell stories of the remarkable successes they've seen:

the neurological patient who sat in a group saying nothing for months, then after a reading of George Herbert's poem "The Flower"

("Who would have thought my shrivelled heart

Could have recovered greenness?")

launched into a 10-minute monologue at the end of which he announced "I feel great."

The brain-damaged young man whose vocabulary significantly increased after he joined a book group;

the husband caring for his disabled wife whose exposure to poetry has proved not just a respite but a liberation.

To outsiders, the outcomes might seem small, but to the staff and patients concerned they're huge breakthroughs.

Judith Mawer of the Mersey Care Mental Health Trust explained,

focusing on a book is the decisive factor:

"People who don't respond to conventional therapy, or don't have access to it, can externalise their feelings by engaging with a fictional character, or be stimulated by the rhythms of poetry."

One particularly successful initiative has been reading poetry to and with dementia patients, some of whom have lost all sense of who and where they are but can recite the words of a poem learned at school 70 years ago.

"One sheds one's sicknesses in books," DH Lawrence once wrote.

Bibliotherapy, as it's called, is a fast-growing profession. A recent survey suggests that "over half of English library authorities are operating some form of bibliotherapy intervention.

Read the evocative words of Emmylou Harris from THE PEARL which touched the dark heart of a patient struggling with Cancer:

O the dragons are gonna fly tonight
They're circling low and inside tonight
It's another round in the losing fight
Out along the great divide tonight

We are aging soldiers in an ancient war
Seeking out some half remembered shore
We drink our fill and still we thirst for more
Asking if there's no heaven what is this hunger for?

Our path is worn our feet are poorly shod
We lift up our prayer against the odds
And fear the silence is the voice of God

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

Sorrow is constant and the joys are brief
The seasons come and bring no sweet relief
Time is a brutal but a careless theif
Who takes our lot but leaves behind the grief

It is the heart that kills us in the end
Just one more old broken bone that cannot mend
As it was now and ever shall be amen

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

So there'll be no guiding light for you and me
We are not sailors lost out on the sea
We were always headed toward eternity
Hoping for a glimpse of Gaililee

Like falling stars from the universe we are hurled
Down through the long loneliness of the world
Until we behold the pain become the pearl

Cryin´ Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah
For the Cancer patient there was emotional healing to these words.

*{A photo of some of the leather bound volumes in one of my bookcases.}


  1. This is an excellent thought-provoking post. Reading is one of the few things that relaxes me these days. I try to read a lot!

  2. Christine:
    I wanted to stress how important what we do is. Our words have the power to heal so we need to craft them well, for we do not know the wounded minds that will be reading our words in the future.

    Thanks for enjoying this post! :-)

  3. Yet another wonderful reason to read as often as possible! It helps me continue learning and keeps my imagination active and I love that! And the idea the my words may help another, priceless.

  4. Yes, I thought you would like this, Heather. As our minds expand, our life expectancy extends! How cool is that?

  5. Book or literature therapy. Makes sense to me. Too many do not want to learn. It's easier to stay with familiarity.

  6. When I first moved to Norway, there were no kindles nor many stores with books in english, and the internett was not around. I did not speak or read norwegian..I was totally lost. It did not take me long to learn the language. A world without words is harder then you can imagine. Thank God things have changed. Wonderful post Roland!

  7. How interesting--the calm that reading can bring. I suppose it has a lot to do with what one is reading; I imagine that a scary thriller doesn't calm the nerves so much. Just the same, any sort of reading does take a person out of 'oneself' and one's own affliction for a bit.

    Nice post.

  8. D.G.:
    Sandra, a former psychologist, has always spoken to me of the importance of the books we read. Logotherapy she called it.

    SHOGUN by James Clavell is about an Enlish ship's navigator stranded in feudal Japan, not knowing the language or customs.

    Like you, he was immersed in a foreign culture and learned a complex language quickly by necessity!

    I admire your courage and ingenuity to have flourished through such an ordeal! A world without words would be a terrifying experience for me!! I'm happy you enjoyed the post.

    Sandra emphasized the importance of WHAT we choose to focus on when we read or view movies. Like you so wisely said: a scary thriller would ramp up our nerves, yet still take us away momentarily for our afflictions for a bit.

    I am very glad that you enjoyed this post! :-)

  9. Studies have shown that there is also a difference in what is being read. For example, humor can lower blood pressure and I suppose bloody fangs and plague infested wolverine stories would raise it. I know from personal experience that I'm too emotional for anything bloody. Great post.

  10. The Desert Rocks:
    That's what Sandra keeps telling me. Humor it is for me ... even in bloody urban fantasy ... I have to find some smiles along the creepy shadows to find amusement and healing the reading. LOL.

    Thanks for the nice words. I've missed you! Roland