Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Reading to Nourish Your Brain

Chances are you don’t read as much as you want to. Or should. I know I don’t.

Take a moment, though, and look at what you read. Then, think about why you’re reading it. If you’re not grazing information online, chances are you’re reading either for work or as a way of escaping for a few minutes.

Something I don’t think we do often enough is reading to nourish our brains.

What do I mean by that?

Reading something that challenges you, whether intellectually or philosophically. Exploring a topic or subject that you normally wouldn’t be interested in. Delving into something that a writer has an interesting take on.

You often don’t get that from a 500 word blog post, or a short article in a newspaper or magazine. To truly nourish your brain, to truly challenge yourself, you need to read something that goes into some depth. Something that builds an argument and tells a story. Something that makes you think.

Some of my recent reads have included In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, and the various articles I find via Longreads and Longform.

You con’t need to restrict yourself to non fiction. Take a stab at challenging fiction, too. In the last while I’ve re-read Against the Day or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

I found that reading those books (and longer pieces of journalism) engaged my brain in a way that’s different from what I read for work or even for pleasure. Not that that more challenging work I read doesn’t bring my pleasure …

Those books and articles got me thinking about ideas and concepts in a way that my regular reading material doesn’t.

And that’s the goal of reading to nourish your brain. Not to keep up with what’s new or hot. Not to follow a trend. The goal is to get you thinking. To expose you to new or different ideas.

Doing that helps to make life a bit more interesting.

So here’s my challenge to you: Find a book or a half dozen long-form articles. Make sure that they’re interesting, challenging, and take you out of your intellectual and mental comfort zone. Read them. Absorb the ideas. Think about those ideas. Then, feel free to report back on your experience.

Any takers?

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

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