Reading literature  is good for the brain 

The age old habit of reading is taking a real battering in the face of stiff electronic competition.
          Video games, DVDs and Blue-Rays are winning the battle against the more sedate pastime of cognitive development in the world of a book. These virtual worlds create anything and everything for us at the touch of a button, sometimes with very little effort from us. This mental inactivity we indulge in reduces our ability to think deeply. The brain is a muscle, which needs to be exercised in order to stay healthy. Endless hours of soap operas will probably tire you rather than relax you.
          Literature is one of the best forms of brain weightlifting that exists. There is no paucity of images and descriptions in Wuthering Heights – ‘On an afternoon in October, or the beginning of November, a fresh watery afternoon, when the turf and paths were rustling with moist, withered leaves, and the cold, blue sky was half hidden by clouds – dark grey streamers, rapidly mounting from the west,… (Bronte, 2009, p.202). This kind of picture cannot be appreciated or even possibly noticed in a movie. Here though, the brain creates its own images, which are as individual as each one of us.
          Literature gives us an insight into different lives, cultures and the struggles of peoples we might never meet. Sam Selvon in his book The Lonely Londoners, tells us the story of the first immigrants in Creolised English. The different perspective we enjoy is a window into a world we might not have known otherwise – ‘Because it look to Moses that he hardly have time to settle in the old Brit’n before all sorts of fellars start coming straight to his room in the Water when they land up in London from the West Indies, saying that so and so tell them that Moses is a good fellar to contact that he would help them get place to stay and work to do (Selvon, 2006, p.2). In this short paragraph, we feel hope, desperation and expectations. Selvon describes to us Moses’s fears in the vernacular language, giving us a true insight of another culture and the personal tribulations that face his characters.
          The above two books are great examples of how different prosal artifice can open new worlds for us through literacy writings. The Yorkshire vernacular and the Creole English are more than just pieces of writing. Literature and history are closely intertwined. Wuthering Heights gives us and insight into the social attitudes towards women in the 19th century. Selvon talks to us about the toils of London life for the black immigrants in the 20th century. The understanding we gain from these artworks helps us develop and free our thinking by giving us and insight of where we come from. The diurnal sufferings and joys of the past enable us to look at our lives and our present society in a more meaningful way. They help us follow the path of development and formation of our communities.
          Literature is also entertaining and offers us a great escapism. Many of us may not know the Scottish/Irish physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but we have all heard of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes, the London based fictional detective, used logical reasoning to solve his difficult criminal cases ( The pleasure of losing ourselves in one of these classic detective stories is more than just reading a book. We are given the opportunity to solve the whodunit from the clues provided, and in the process we become the detectives. It can be argued that the fast moving pace of the spoon-feeding TV may not allow us this chance.
          There is also the language development to be enjoyed. A work of literature offers us new words to learn and use. There is a plethora of lexis to be absorbed and through them enrich our lexicon. This enables us achieve a deeper understanding of the etymology and growth of our language through the passage of time.
          The author of the following forum lists the benefits of studying literature in bullet points -
          In conclusion, literature is one of the best ways of developing our cognitive powers, through its imagery, cultural appreciation and vocabulary development. It enables us to appreciate our contemporary society through the study of its development over the years. The number of readings available range from true life events to fictional prose, offer us a plethora of books to choose from.


Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-954189-8.

Logical Reasoning, (accessed 26 April 2012).

Sam Selvon, Lonely Londoners, Penguin Classics,2006, ISBN 978-0141188416

Free thought Forum, Why study literature, (accessed 26 April 2012)

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