Less Streaming and More Books Is My Recipe for Better Health

Less Streaming and More Books Is My Recipe for Better Health
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My timing has been abysmal lately. Take for instance my purchase of an all-wheel-drive car so that I could get to work in the snow. The snow never materialized (Philadelphia had a measly 0.3-inch season total), the job disappeared (thank you, COVID-19), and the car payments remain.

Then there was my bright idea to pass up paper towels, toilet paper, and disinfecting wipes on March 8 to wait for a better sale. I decided the next morning that the prices weren’t bad and went back to find store shelves picked clean. Needless to say, they remain empty. Thank you, hoarders. 

The cherry on top of my sundae of poor timing was giving up texting and streaming services during Lent, a stretch that ended up being carried out indoors under Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order. Thank you, Netflix, Sling, and Hulu for adding to my misery by emailing teases of new releases. 

Like many, I was caught off guard and left wishing for a few do-overs. But when libraries and bookstores closed without warning, my past stockpiling of books meant I was already prepared. Sure, I know I can still have literary works shipped to my door, or even download titles to my electronic devices. But my shelves are so flush that I can get by without more. So, let me bask in the glory of finally having not just plenty — but more than I need — of something during this pandemic. 

My beloved bookshelves to the rescue. (Photo by Athena Merritt)

Stockpiling books, not toilet paper

I’m admittedly addicted to books. I can’t leave home without at least one. I can’t pass a bookstore without longing to go in. I leave libraries with my arms filled. And I start looking for new novels to sink into before I’ve even made it to the last page of the ones I’m reading.

Browsing for literary news is how I found out that on April 23, the U.K. will be celebrating reading with its annual World Book Night, which unfortunately ended years ago in the United States. A great way for everyone to participate is through the event’s Reading Hour. All you have to do is recommend or share a book with others using the hashtag #ReadingHour or gift a read to someone. I hope everyone continues that even after the event is over. 

Literary escapes provide safe travel for me despite my sarcoidosis diagnosis — no mask or hand sanitizer needed. My early Reading Hour shares are of books whose storylines took me to Australia (“The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty), Minneapolis and Maine (“The Institute” by Stephen King ), and African-inspired lands (“The Rage of Dragons” by Evan Winter). 

Bookworms reap benefits

Last year, 27% of Americans didn’t read a single book or even part of one, according to a Pew Research Center survey. That is a shame because they are missing out on many benefits.

Indulging in books, like laughter, relaxes me and takes my mind off of pain. Reading also exercises the brain, Stanford University researchers discovered. And a lifetime of doing so can slow late-life cognitive decline, according to a past study published in the journal Neurology.

The odds of living longer are also stacked in bookworms’ favor, research by the Yale University School of Public Health has shown. According to the findings, those who read up to 3.5 hours weekly were 17% less likely to die over the following 12-year period than nonreaders.

I’m off to read more books. If you have a good one to share, I’m all ears. 

Be safe. Stay healthy. And keep reading.

Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • It took a pandemic, but I’m finally free of robocalls. Is anyone else?
  • If you haven’t heard, you can now enjoy warm DoubleTree by Hilton chocolate chip cookies to your heart’s content with the recent release of the secret recipe.
  • Shoot away: Nikon is providing free courses during April.
  • Let’s applaud the giving spirit of one of our own in the sarcoidosis community. Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, who owns Barrio Cafe in Phoenix, has been providing meals to those in need during the pandemic. She announced plans on Facebook to begin feeding hospitals on April 20. Donations to support her efforts can be made via PayPal to: [email protected]. 

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Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

Athena, a former journalist and Pennsylvania native, was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 2002. She’s admittedly addicted to books, Marvel, and football. She tackles life with humor, passion and curiosity, and hopes to reach others through her writing.
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Athena, a former journalist and Pennsylvania native, was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 2002. She’s admittedly addicted to books, Marvel, and football. She tackles life with humor, passion and curiosity, and hopes to reach others through her writing.
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