When we read, we flex and strengthen our cognitive muscles — like weight training for the brain. Professor Keith Oatley from the University of Toronto compares reading to being in a flight simulator: “you experience a lot of situations in a short span of time, more so than if we went about our lives waiting for those experiences to actually happen to us.”
Professor Oatley found that individuals who read short stories showed a “lower need for cognitive closure,” or the urge to make irrational split decisions. The reason? Reading literature forces us to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. In other words, reading forces us to slow down and think critically.
Books open our minds. They are the stonemasons of learning. The basis of our opinions. The foundation of skill. We know it to be true, yet we fill our free time with Netflix and video games. It is a wonder why critical thinking finds itself in low supply?