By Heidi Simmons

At the beginning of every New Year I resolve to read more. That may seem odd since I already read one to three books a week for this Book Review column. I love books: the look, the feel and even the smell. What’s best is the unknown excitement and anticipation of its contents. Books are a very personal experience. They contain worlds.

Generally, as long as a book is well-written, I will read it. I like fiction, nonfiction and biographies. My tastes are eclectic. I enjoy natural science topics from brain chemistry to animal behavior. I’m prone to favor under-dogs and misfits. Not everything I read is a treasure, but each book offers something of value.

I admit that some of the joy of reading has diminished since it became a requirement. Reading critically, it is harder to savor a book and indulge in its prose. There is hardly time to weep and the chuckles are gone too quick. To be honest, I don’t always feel like sharing my thoughts. This year I am resolved to get the joy back and appreciate my time with the written word.

Besides books, I am also resolved to read more of the newspaper and not just scan the headlines or read the lead paragraph. I am resolved to look through the whole magazine and read at least one article all the way through before the next issue arrives. These three resolutions should not be such a challenge. I think they are doable and I plan to meet my goal. For me, I am certain it’s all about making time to relax and indulge in the language, the narrative and the information.

A CVW reader recently sent me some interesting facts about reading I thought I would share:

• Thirty-three percent of high school graduates never read another book the rest of their lives.

• Forty-two percent of college graduates never read another book after leaving college.

• Fifty-seven percent of new books are not read to completion.

• Seventy percent of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

• Eighty percent of US families did not buy or read a book last year.

• Fifteen percent of the population has a reading disorder.

• Students who do independent reading out-of-school for 15 minutes a day are exposed to more than a million words of text a year.

• The more a child reads the likelier they are able to understand the emotions of others.

• Reading one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an expert in seven years.

• Elderly people who regularly read are two and half times less likely to have Alzheimer’s.

• The educational careers of 25 to 40 percent of American children are imperiled because they don’t read well enough, quickly enough or easily enough.

• Over 50 percent of NASA employees are dyslexics. However, they have superb problem solving skills and 3D spatial awareness.

• Adults in the Untied States rank 12th among 20 high-income countries in document, prose and quantitative literacy. *

It is never too late to become a reader. There is something for everybody and for everybody’s level of reading. Adult or child, books are great entertainment. There is no such thing as high or lowbrow books. There is only reading.

The Coachella Valley has wonderful libraries with outstanding librarians. It is their pleasure to help start you reading, find a good book or recommend something for your specific interests.

There are local book clubs that meet regularly. They read and get together to discuss books and their meaning. It is a perfect opportunity to meet people and exchange ideas. There is no wrong answer. Check for a book club at your local library or start one in your neighborhood.

Reading together as a family is always a good idea. Reading out loud is wonderful no matter your age. Young Adult (YA) books are popular among kids and adults of all ages. Short stories are a fun way to get familiar with an author. Most authors have collections of short stories. Find an author you like and stick with him or her all year by reading their entire oeuvre.

Movies are often based on a book, so read the book before you see the movie. The conversation after the film will be far more interesting.

This New Year make a reading resolution for good health and good mind. It’s as important as your resolution to eat right and exercise. Make time for yourself and join me for a good read everyday. Enjoy!

*Source: The Literacy Company, The Jenkins Group, Brian Tracy and Robert

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