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You Are What You Read

The truth is out: what you read has a huge impact on how you write! According to the International Journal of Business Administration, certain genres of books can help or hinder your ability to write. For example, people who read web-based articles from BuzzFeed, Tumblr, and Reddit, exclusively, had “the lowest scores.” Not The Reading Room though- our readers have great scores (based on what we think, anyway).

Those who scored highest on the test frequently read academic journals, literary fiction, or nonfiction. Along with internet articles, the lowest scorers were reading mysteries, fantasy, or science fiction. On its face this does not seem right. We all know plenty of fantasy or science fiction novels that achieve a high level of depth and complexity, how can they lead to poorer writing ability?

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Susan Reynolds of Psychology Today explains that one difference is the depth with which we read. Deep reading is considered “slow, immersive, rich in sensory detail and emotional and moral complexity.” Deep reading forces the brain to process complicated events while at the same time applying our own personal experiences and views to the situation. This causes the brain to be more creative and empathetic.

Light reading on the other hand is often shallow and does not require the brain to fire on all cylinders. The extremely light reading that comes from entertainment magazines and TMZ headlines can hardly be considered reading. The literature is shallow and it only promotes one specific view on a topic. As you would expect, those who only dabble in light reading had the lowest score in the IJBA study linked above.

Don’t get too bent out of shape if you haven’t been reading any non-fiction or academic journals lately. The test is not about overall intelligence. It mainly focuses on a college student’s ability to display their knowledge through writing. So for those of you who do write, or want to write in the future, make sure your bookshelf has more than some mystery novels. After all, you are what you read! 

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