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Susan Pallister | Books: Mortality and Intelligence
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Books: Mortality and Intelligence

14 May Books: Mortality and Intelligence

Yesterday, I found an intriguing article sitting in my inbox entitled: The Number of Books you will read Before you Die.   

In the US, Emily Temple, who has her own blog, the Literary Hub, calculated the ever-shortening window between the book you are reading now and the last book you will ever read; she did this by combining data from the Social Security Life Expectancy Calculator with US reading pattern data from the Pew Research Center,

Temple was, therefore, able to calculate the number of books any given age/gender group can expect to finish before they die. She even provided calculations for each of three reading types: average readers (12 books a year, per Pew), voracious readers (50 books a year) and super readers (80).

Elle Kaplan, CEO & Founder of @LexionCapital, an Investment Management Firm, has highlighted that Bill Gates and Elon Musk devote extraordinary amounts of their time to reading. Musk even attributes his knowledge of how to build rockets to his reading repertoire. Recent studies have linked reading to a reduction in stress, increased focus as well as an improvement in long and short term memory. Dan Hurley, a writer and journalist, spent three years interviewing psychologists and neuroscientists around the world, reviewing their studies and testing new methods they claim can increase intelligence. He comments, ” while nobody would ever call reading a “new” method for improving the mind, recent scientific studies have confirmed that reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic.”

Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve problems, understand things and detect meaningful patterns. Hurley makes a strong case that,” in today’s world, fluid intelligence and reading generally go hand in hand. In fact, the increased emphasis on critical reading and writing skills in schools may partly explain why students perform, on average, about 20 points higher on IQ tests than in the early 20th century.” The impact of reading has even been linked to improved levels of emotional intelligence.  In 2014, the Journal of Science published a study showing that reading literary fiction can actually improve people’s “theory of mind”, which is defined as their ability to understand others’ mental states. In five experiments, researchers were able to show that reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of both emotional and cognitive intelligence compared with reading non-fiction, popular fiction or nothing at all.

So, my advice to everyone: keep reading and posting links and reviews to all those fantastic works of literary fiction….and non-fiction as well!!