With expanding technology, the way information is transmitted and ultimately perceived by the recipient is rapidly changing. Short messages, texting and visual content is replacing and interrupting the habit of slow reading, which is focused on understanding the meaning and reinforces deep immersion in the written word.
Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto explore how habit of slow, deep reading has influence on our behavior and perception of the outer world. Their studies have shown that this type of reading enables individuals easier to accept other peoples point of view.
In a study, researches Maja Djikic and Keith Oatley (2014) at University of Toronto, came to similar results, where they concluded that beside developing the empathetic characteristics, readers were able to act in more altruistic ways. Researches have gone even a step further where they claim that deep, immersive reading can lead to destabilizing personality, making it more receptive to inner experiences.
This type of enjoyment of exploring other people’s mental states can lead to something that is referred to as a pleasure reading. Slow, progressive reading gives deep readers time to reflect upon their reading, analyze and form their own opinions.
Even C.S. Lewis in his highly acclaimed work “An Experiment in Criticism” emphasize the importance of reading.
Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented…. In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
If you are already a ‘bookworm’ these findings probably haven’t surprised you. Yet we do need to remind ourselves from time to time that written shortcuts, and fast scrolling though a gigabytes of irrelevant information cannot replace a cozy afternoon with a book, that “intimate conversation” between you and your favorite author.
Come hither, Boy, we’ll hunt to Day
The Book-Worm, ravening Beast of Prey,
Produc’d by Parent Earth, at odds
(As Fame reports it) with the Gods.
Him frantic Hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand Authors Lives:
Thro’ all the Fields of Wit he flies;
Dreadful his Head with clust’ring Eyes,
With Horns without, and Tusks within,
And Scales to serve him for a Skin.
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the Bards of ancient Time,
Or down the Vale of Fancy go
To tear some modern Wretch below:
On ev’ry Corner fix thine Eye,
Or ten to one he slips thee by.