October 8, 2020
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Books and Reading
How’s your stack of to-be-read books looking these days? Smaller or bigger since the shutdown? Are you finding escaping into the pages of the latest bestseller to be nearly impossible? Well, don’t despair, friend. You’re not alone.
A current lack of focus and inability to read could very well be a result of your brain’s response to scarcity. In an episode of the NPR podcast Hidden Brain, host Shankar Vedantam and his guests describe a kind of trap, a problem with tunnel vision. They pose the theory that:
“When you’re really desperate for something, you can focus on it so obsessively there’s no room for anything else. The time-starved spend much of their mental energy juggling time.”
So, what can we do in a world overflowing with uncertainty? As neuroscientist and psychologist Dr. Oliver J. Robinson advised in his interview with Vox, in order to “unplug” for portions of each day and to relax and escape into our imaginations, we may need to alter how we define “reading.” In other words, try new mediums!
Visit OverDrive or download Libby, and check out an eBook. Or try an audiobook—have the story read to you for a change! And if you typically read from screens, maybe power down your device, and give a physical book a chance. Think outside the box and seek to reimagine what you consider “storytelling.” Music, especially operatic or symphonic pieces, can be another form of storytelling.
The Library’s free streaming music resource, Freegal, offers a wide range of songs, both for streaming and download. Your family can approach storytime in a fresh new way. Instead of reading a book together, you can all listen to a piece of classical, global, or instrumental music and share what you think the musician is saying—the story they’re trying to tell.
Don’t be afraid to change the way you read! There are many ways to enjoy books, and just changing how we interact with stories has the potential to increase our focus and attention span.
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