This just in! (10 months ago) this article explained how good fiction is for our brains. In a nutshell, we get to practice real life in our heads, and therefore get better at it, or at least more flexible and accepting of new situations. So, if you read alot of Sci-Fi, in the near-future, you will be just a little bit more helpful to have around than these hordes of Fantasy nerds.
Quora is a great website to find well thought-out answers to somewhat open-ended questions. One question asks about pursuing a high-paying corporate job or a low-paying passion. Another asks about high-leverage activities that ensure a good life. This is part of the answer:
I believe that any advantage I might appear to have in computational ability, imagination, perceptiveness and expressiveness- ALL OF IT is a consequence of the vast amounts of reading I did as a child. Reading expands your mind. It gives you new and interesting perspectives to work with. Reading exercises the mind, it gives you new possibilities, it allows you to learn from the minds of others.
I believe that the benefits of reading have compounded effects- when you have had your mind expanded, you approach the rest of life with a more open mind, you’re more perceptive to little details, you pay more attention, you get more out of every subsequent experience. This compounding never truly goes away.
You’re never to late to start, and don’t feel like you should ever stop!
Also, I would absolutely add writing to the top of that list. Also also, the topic of life advice reminds me of this post (from brainpickings, again) in which Alan Watts tells us how to figure out what to do with our lives.
An old friend recommended a new poet (Richard Brautigan) and his poems recently, and I rather enjoyed The Galilee Hitch-Hiker. He may be an old, dead hippie, but he made me laugh and smile and sad all in one. Here’s an excerpt:
up a hamburger stand
in San Fransisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, “Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it.”
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, “What kind
of a hamburger stand
I also picked up a new book because I judged it by its cover and loved the title: Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake. It’s fantastic. The writing here is more essay-ish, or maybe more journal-y, than story, and it’s something I’m trying in my own writing lately. It may be easier to say something honest when I don’t have to create and find characters, but just pull experiences and thoughts together and try to make sense of it.
If you see this one in the bookstore, at least read the first one. It’ll make your day.