Recent Articles on Aging, Reading, and Life in the Pacific Northwest
About 20,000 people are testing the region’s readiness for disaster this week, preparing for an earthquake-and-tsunami one-two punch that could devastate the Pacific Northwest should a megaquake rip along the 600-mile-long offshore fault known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
The “Cascadia Rising” exercise — the largest of its kind ever in the Pacific Northwest — tests emergency responses across the region.
The potential for destruction here is staggering. Here’s just one statistic:
FEMA projects that about 9,400 people in Washington would die in the event of a megaquake and tsunami.
I’ve always loved losing myself in a great work of fiction, and the question of whether that pleasure has diminished as I’ve gotten older never even crossed my mind.
Bookends is a recurring feature in the New York Times:
In Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Francine Prose and Benjamin Moser discuss the difficulties of getting lost in reading after a certain age.
Francine Prose writes that she no longer gets immersed in books as she did as a child:
A neurologist friend says that adults are likelier than children to cross-reference when they read, to compare people and things in a book with people and things they know, which is why an adult reading experience may be a “dip” compared with the child’s “soak.” I enjoy reading a book written centuries ago and discovering a character almost exactly like someone I know. And so I am cross-referencing: My attention is divided between the fictional character and the real-life counterpart.
She admits, however, that “Despite everything, immersion still happens”:
I’m more surprised and grateful now to be transported by words on a page from one world to another. Perhaps because, as grown-ups, we value what is harder won.
Benjamin Moser, on the other hand, believes that becoming a writer ruined him for the experience of getting lost in a book:
As I’ve grown older, I’ve reluctantly discovered that I don’t, in fact, really want to read more books. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to read. I find, though, I want to read the same books.
What those books have in common, he says is this:
they do not try to drag me into a narrative. I can open them to any page and read words — as many or as few as I like — that clean my brain rather than stuff it. The longer I write, the more I realize that stories are the last thing I need. What is missing are not stories but the words to tell them.
Norman Miller describes how reading groups can serve older adults:
A growing number of care homes are discovering that libraries and reading groups can transform the lives of their residents, including those with dementia.
Research published by the centre for research into reading, literature and society (Crils) at the University of Liverpool has found that while any reading helps sharpen the minds of older people, shared reading in groups offers particular benefits. Almost 90% of participants reported uplifted mood, better concentration and better long- and short-term memory.
© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown