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Were you the type of kid who always had your nose in a book? Did you stay up late at a night to finish one more chapter, using one of those goofy book lights you clipped to the pages? Was the library a place of endless fascination and wonder for you? I’m going to be honest and tell you my answer to all of these questions is a resounding “No.” Growing up, I read because I had to. It was an obligation, not a passion. I think it came down to the fact that very little reading I did was on my own terms. The books I read were assigned to me, and I probably even dipped into the world of CliffsNotes at one point or another over the course of my book report career. During my freshman or sophomore year of high school, I remember reading “The Hobbit” for English class. While it’s obviously a great book — millions of fans would have my head if I said otherwise — it’s just not my thing. I tried and tried, but it never clicked. At that point, I thought I’d foresworn reading forever, but I’m happy to report that’s not what happened. In adulthood, I’ve become an avid reader, maybe because it’s something I pursue on my own now rather than it being a task I have to complete. Perhaps it’s the result of finding material that resonates with me, but whatever the case, I look back on my younger self and think of her as silly for shunning the pleasures of a good read. Today, I can’t imagine my life without reading. Information is everywhere, and no delivery method conveys that information better than the written language. As strange as it sounds, some of my first joyful experiences with reading came from academic journals. To most people, reading academic journals sounds a lot more like drudgery than traveling to the fantasy worlds of Tolkien. I’m just the opposite. I love reading about the latest clinical studies and the ways the science of physical therapy is advancing. When I’m traveling for work, you can bet I have a research paper or two cued up. Of THE BEST KIND OF BRAIN CANDY HOW I BECAME A READER
course, there’s an obvious practical benefit to this kind of reading — much of what I learn ends up helping our patients — but it’s also something I truly enjoy. The same goes for novels, which I’ve come to regard as the best tasting brain candy available to humankind. If there’s one book that has really piqued my interest when it comes to literature, it’s Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth.” He writes historical fiction so densely researched you’re often left wondering what’s fact and what’s imagined. Often, I find myself wanting to look stuff up as I’m reading his books. The ability to connect to other worlds and to spur on our curiosity are some of the chief benefits of reading. Long before the internet, a book could send you down the rabbit hole in a hurry. So, whether you were a bookworm since birth or came to it later in life, I hope you’ve managed to cultivate a love of reading in some form. We all read different things. I still don’t want to give “The Hobbit” another shot, and you probably have no desire to pick up the latest issue of APTA Journal. But the act of reading itself is something we can all benefit from.
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