There are many ways to improve the chance of you living to a ripe old age, and some are fairly obvious. Refraining from smoking and drinking, doing moderate-intensity exercise, and eating a relatively healthy diet are some of the more obvious ones, but a new study in the journal Social Science and Medicine also concludes that those who regularly read books add years to their lives too.
In fact, in a long-term study of 3,635 people, they found that those thatindulged in a bit of novel perusing specifically, for more than 3.5 hours per week live on averagetwo years longer than non-readers. This appeared to be linked to cognitive enhancement rather than any other associated factor, including age, sex, education, race, health, wealth, marital status, and depressive tendencies.
During the 12-year-long study, the research team led by Avni Bavishi from the Yale University School of Public Health divided their subjects into three groups: those who didnt read at all, those who read for 3.5 hours per week or less, and those who read for more than 3.5 hours per week.
Even in the second group, these occasional bookworms were 17 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period than those who did not. Before you claim that all those magazine articles you read aregood enough, however, its worth noting that this effect can only be linked to books, and not other forms of reading material.
Book reading contributed to a survival advantage that was significantly greater than that observed for reading newspapers or magazines, the authors note in their study, concluding that these findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.
Reading books tends to involve two cognitive processes that could create a survival advantage, the team added. First, it promotes deep reading, an immersive process that encourages readers to form connections to other parts of the material and the world around them. Second, books can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival.
It seems that the complex, interwoven nature of many books cannot be matched, at present, by any other type of text-based information. Nevertheless, this doesnt mean that books are the only way to engage your brain in intricate, engaging ways multiple studies across the years have shown that computer games are also excellent ways to boost intelligence and learning capabilities, both of which will undoubtedly give you an advantage in life.
Still, at this point, it seems that books rule the roost. The novelist Stephen King once said that books are a uniquely portable magic, and it appears that he was right in more ways than one.
There’s “gal,” there’s “lady,” and now, there’s “kween” (comma, “yas”).
The ways modern girls evade calling each other “girls” are myriad, but most of them take on the same semi-ironic tone, mocking the days when femininity, monolithic as it was, could be neatly contained within the parameters of a word.
As much as those old-timey words smack of condescension “ladies” seems at home in the mouth of a suited courter, verbally italicized they can also generate feelings of solidarity among women, and so we use them, half-seriously. “Lady” has a disparaging air; it implies that a woman behaves as she “should.” “Gal” isn’t as bad, but it harkens back to a time when women had fewer rights. When we use these words on our own terms, we’re giving them a new life.
But there’s one girl-word that’s still icky in spite of its ubiquity, and that’s “girl” itself.
It’s unapologetically juvenile, like the cringeworthy “panties,” which, according to a survey of 500 women, is among the most-hated words. Its juvenility, when applied to adults, reveals some uncomfortable things about femininity being inextricably linked to youth. But, as Robin Wasserman pointed out in a piece on the word on Literary Hub, “girl” is having a moment. Citing a rash of new books with “girl” in the title – including her own, Girls on Fire, Wasserman writes, “There is, it seems, a girl for nearly every kind of woman. I think it’s worth asking why.”
She surveys Gone Girl, Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band, “Golden Girls” and Lena Dunham’s “Girls” to arrive at the conclusion that until we reshape the stuffy, stifled connotation of “woman,” “girl” is liberating, and “girlhood as a state of mind” is worth embracing.
But how did we get ourselves into this linguistic conundrum, wherein the two most viable pronouns for women are respectively infantilizing and rife with domestic, subservient connotations?
The word started cropping up in English texts in the 13th century, used to refer to a young person, but not necessarily a female child.
Sally McConnell-Ginet, professor emeritus of linguistics at Cornell, shared her insights about the history and function of the word “girl” in an email exchange with The Huffington Post, explaining that its roots aren’t tied to gender, but to youth in general.
The precise origin of “girl” is unknown, but, McConnell-Ginet said, the word started cropping up in English texts in the 13th century, used to refer to a young person, but not necessarily a female child. “Gay girls” referred to young women, while “knave girls” referred to young men, until around the 16th century, when “girl” evolved to mean young women in particular.
“This is pretty interesting,” McConnell-Ginet said. “It is much more common for words designating either sex to become specialized for application to males, as in the case of ‘man,’ which from meaning ‘human’ has come to mean in most uses ‘male human.’”
She suspects that the transition of “girl” from genderless to gendered has to do with the word’s dainty connotation, and the perception of young women as smaller and fairer than young men. “It is probably because of the very common association of childishness, smallness, etc.,” McConnell-Ginet said. “Female children might seem in many contexts the quintessential children.”
Does calling adult women “girls” imply that they should strive to be quintessential children, too? It would seem so, when it was uttered in workplaces by “Mad Men”-era nine-to-fivers, describing their secretaries, regardless of age. “My girl” wasn’t just a diminutive descriptor at work, either. The oldies hit bearing the phrase as a title was a No. 1 single by The Temptations in 1964. “Girl Friday” and “girl next door” are among the offshoots that take “girl” to mean a woman who is dependable, helpful, and, as such, eager to serve.
Using historically juvenile words to refer to people who are no longer children has been used as an oppressive tool in other contexts, marking the habit as a harmful one. McConnell-Ginet notes that black men in America were referred to as “boy” by white slaveholders, and, later, employers. “The ‘houseboy’ in many colonial contexts was typically adult,” she added. “Women of any age doing domestic work were often referred to as ‘girls,’ a usage more likely for women of color.”
Using historically juvenile words to refer to people who are no longer children has been used as an oppressive tool in other contexts, marking the habit as a harmful one.
It’s not surprising, then, that, as with so many inventive language phenomena today, the reclaiming of “girl” began in black communities. McConnell-Ginet called it a “warm and powerful form of address,” and due to that power, the usage spread.
In the ‘90s, there were the riot grrrls and the glossier pop equivalents touting “girl power.” Today, Beyonce chants that girls run the world. The widespread reclamation might’ve been disseminated over radio waves and Spotify downloads, but it made its way to more academic realms, too. Eve Ensler, founder of The Vagina Monologues, preaches the reclaiming of the “girl self,” the versions of our personas that “we, as both women and men, often devalue as weak, foolish and irrational as a result of our gender socialization.” When put that way, “girl” is at once a guttural battle cry and a sound defense of traditionally “feminine” virtues, so often written off as foolish or naive.
Andi Zeisler, founder of Bitch Media and author of We Were Feminists Once, attributes the omnipresence of “girl” to a less innocuous force. In a phone interview with HuffPost, she said, “I do think it’s because it’s easier to conceive of girls as an attractive category than it is to think about women in that same way. The Women’s Guide to Savvy Investing is just not going to move the same kind of units as The Girl’s Guide to Getting Rich! A lot of it really is, from a selling and consumption perspective, [about] making things useful, making them sassy, trading on the imagery of the word ‘girl’ as somehow more fun and less ponderous than ‘woman.’”
Zeisler remembers making the conscious decision to refer to herself as a “woman” rather than a “girl,” a deliberate choice she believes many young women make while they’re in the throes of their politically charged college years.
“I was certainly referring to my contemporaries as girls well into my freshman year before I started noticing that a lot of the people I respected and looked up to were using the term ‘woman,’” Zeisler said. “It’s sort of alien. I remember it sounding very alien in my own mouth, and I felt like I was tripping over myself when I said it. I felt really self-conscious about it.”
Condescension and commercialization aside, she doesn’t think reclaiming “girl” as a positive descriptor rather than a dismissive moniker is all bad. “I don’t really see a ton of downsides,” Zeisler said. “Other than the fact that you don’t always get to choose what people mean when they’re calling you a ‘girl.’”
But that alone the interpretable nature and fraught history of the word, which can be molded into meanings that range from stunting to healing may be reason enough to avoid it.
In the annals of great underdogs, a Canadian subsidiary of a Japanese mega-retailer makes for an unlikely entrant. And yet heres Kobo, again, with a new e-reader that could give Kindle owners some serious second thoughts.
The new Kobo Aura One is literally big, a 7.8-inch behemoth in a world of standard 6-inch displays. But its features are also outsized, whether its robust waterproofing, a clever new nighttime lighting system, or a way to help you read as many top-shelf books as you please without paying a cent. More importantly, theyre all enhancements you wont find on an Amazon Kindle.
Its a rocky time for e-readers. Last month, the Association of American Publishers reported that while overall book revenue increased .6 percent in 2015 versus the year before, e-book revenue fell a precipitous 11.3 percent. Of Amazons extensive e-reader lineup, only two crack the companys top 100 sellers in electronics.
So its not surprising then that Kobo has felt some of this decline as well; in fact, the only surprising thing for most people may be that an e-reader called Kobo exists at all. The upstarts parent company, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, wrote down its 2011 Kobo acquisition by nearly $250 million earlier this year.
The bleak economics of e-reading belies the steadily increasing joys of the devices themselves, especially in the burgeoning premium category. Not many people may be willing to spend hundreds of dollars on an e-reader, but if youre one of them, youre in for a treat. That applies to Amazons $200 Kindle Voyage, its more recent $290 Oasis, which comes with its own leather charging case, and now to the $230 Kobo Aura One, which launches on September 6. It does things neither of those Amazon devices can dream of, and it has to if it wants to shake people from their e-reader lethargy.
When people talk about seeing declines in the space, one of the things thats embedded in that is that people are still reading on devices that they bought in 2011 and 2012, says Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn. Then they slowly upgrade until something comes along thats good enough to make them step upward. Its not like smartphones, where youre getting a giant influx of new customers every 18 months.
If e-reader success is a matter of enticements, the Aura One makes for a pretty solid siren. Previous Kobos have been waterproof, but the latest model can survive submerged two meters for up to an hour, not that youd need to. The Aura One hops on the anti-blue-light trend, phasing out blue spectrum over time so that reading in bed doesnt go on to affect your sleep. (There are studies that say this is helpful, and Apple introduced a similar feature in iOS 9.3, but mileage will vary).
Its also bigger. Tamblyn says the 7.8-inch display helps mimic the feel of a hardcover, rather than a paperback, and that aging e-book enthusiasts prefer having more words on a page even at blown-up font sizes. In my short time with the Aura One, I can confirm that despite its size, its comfortable to hold one-handed, thanks to minimal weight and a pleasantly texturized rubber back. I dont know that I prefer a bigger display yet, or prefer it enough to sacrifice even that little bit of room in my bag. All that surface area can also make the Aura One a little awkward to navigate when youre using the keyboard to search the store, or adjusting far-flung settings.
But youre mostly just reading. And besides, any annoyance quickly disappears when you get to the Aura Ones best feature. The one where you dont have to buy books anymore.
Apologies if this comes as no surprise, but you dont actually have to purchase e-books. You can rent them from your local library, through a company called OverDrive.
I know, right? Free books! And its not like you were going to display them on your built-ins anyway. The reason more people dont know about this, or maybe more accurately just dont do it, is that the process is a pain. You have to sign up at your library, register at OverDrive on your browser, download a book, transfer it to your device; its a mess, no matter what e-reader you own.
The previous experience of people side-loading to the device was 16 steps to borrow through a library, says Tamblyn. And if any one of those went wrong, it was usually a customer service call to us.
Youll notice that Tamblyn uses the past tense. Thats because Rakuten bought OverDrive in 2015 for over $400 million, which means OverDrive and Kobo are siblings, which is why (thanks, corporate synergy!) the Kobo Aura One has OverDrive built right in.
That gets a little tangled, so let me clarify: You can borrow e-books directly on the Aura One, for free, with just a few taps. I picked up National Book Award finalist Fates and Furies last night with about 30 seconds of work, including the download time. It retails for $13 on Amazon.
There are hiccups to OverDrive borrowing. The titles eventually disappear from your device when the lending period is over (although you can re-up), and the selection can be scant. But giving OverDrive equal weight as a paid bookstore is a remarkable thing. If you borrow 10 books a year, thats easily a hundred dollars youve saved, not to mention avoiding the hassle of side-loading.
For now, the direct OverDrive access is limited to the Aura One, though Tamblyn didnt rule out the possibility that it could come to other models as well. It goes a long way towards making that $230 purchase price more palatable, though. Especially when that still undercuts Amazons best by a solid amount.
We were certainly quite delighted to see someone come out with something up in the $300 range that was still a 6-inch screen, that hadnt done anything with light and sleep, not waterproof, says Tamblyn. That was a great gift to us.
There are things not to like about the Aura One. It has no physical buttons, if you prefer those, and Kobos e-book store selection still falls well short of the Kindle Store. The larger size might throw you off. But theres also so much to like. More importantly, theres so much here that you wont find anywhere else. At the very least, it makes Kobo worthy of a closer read.
I’m writing this to you out of love, not fear. I wanted to go over a few things with you before you embark on this weekend alone… with the others.
Nighttime, daytime, breakfast time, and somewhere around lunchtime can easily be mistaken for pure H*LL, with Satan coming off as a My Little Pony in comparison.
First thing’s first…
Upon arriving home after work, things won’t seem so bad. The others will hug, jump, and for the most part, be pretty excited to see you. This will be short lived… I promise.
School season or not… this is also known as h*ll hour. The others will fight about anything and everything, with Quinn and Penny being the biggest instigators.
It’s most likely that Quinn will be pissed off about Penny wearing her Elsa dress, and Penny equally pissed off because Quinn will ONLY refer to her as Anna. Penny will also be fighting sleep, which I’ll get to later.”
“Dinner will suck. Bailey will want pizza, while Harper will ask for hot dogs.
Quinn will cry when you say the word hot dog and will insist on mac [and] cheese (but not the orange kind or the white kind, but the purple kind). We’ll be fresh out of the purple kind, so she’ll then ask for toast.
You’ll already have started making mac [and] cheese for Penny, but since she heard Quinn ask for toast, she’ll also want that toast. You’ll end up tossing the mac [and] cheese because Bailey got the stomach flu [five] years ago after eating the orange kind, and Harper prefers the white kind.
“You’ll also forget about Harper because her friend Lily “unexpectedly” stopped by, so they went ripsticking down the street. Everyone will eat cereal for dinner, and Lily will come inside for a[Band-Aid].
You’ll want to sit down and relax after dinner/breakfast, but I’m warning you against this. It will get quiet… REAL quiet.
This is when you’ll realize that the threenager has fallen asleep somewhere. Do NOT let the threenager fall asleep. You’re basically f**ked if this happens.
She will be wide awake until at least 1:30 a.m. if you’re not careful. Given your 9:30 bedtime and 5 a.m. wake up, this is less than ideal.”
Pajamas. F**K pajamas. Don’t even ATTEMPT anything but a nightgown for Penny. And if you cannot find a nightgown for Penny, keep f**king looking.
She’ll ask for her Minnie Mouse nightgown, but once you put it on, she’ll scream in agony…Just find her Elsa one. Chances are, it’s dirty as s**t, but so what… So is she. I can’t remember the last time I put soap to that one.
Go ahead and leave Penny on the couch with you. God knows you let her a** fall asleep somewhere prior. Quinn, Harper, and Bailey will go down seamlessly. Just wait.
As they lie in their beds, they’ll then realize that their tiny mouths are on God d**ned fire, and they’ll act as if they’ve just walked 800 f**king miles through the Sahara. They will come down… one by one… every God d**ned 5 minutes… for water.
Don’t let ANYONE use Quinn’s pink Elsa cup. If she sees this, she will lose her holy s**t.”
“You’ll end up bringing Penny to bed with you, thinking that’s a good idea. Ha ha ha ha ha! You may as well sleep next to Evander Holyfield on uppers.
Just try getting her into her bed. Give her the iPad. This will save your life… Promise.
Make sure you turn the volume down, along with the screen brightness. Speaking of brightness, don’t forget the diffuser.
Fill that s**t up, and add [two] drops of Peace and calming, one lavender, and one stress away. If she was a real d**k that day, add some frankincense. Set the light to PURPLE. Sweet baby Jesus, please remember purple.
If you set it to blue, she will act as if her retinas are on the God d**ned sun. Don’t forget her sippy cup. Seriously… DON’T. She’ll drink some, and then ask you to take it. She’ll want you to place it on her dresser.
She’ll call you in [five] minutes later for the rest. She’ll call you in AGAIN to put that s**t back on the dresser. She’ll then… wake up at 3 a.m. screaming that someone has stolen said sippy cup. Just fill that s**t back up, and pray to Peter and Mary that she falls back asleep. Oh, and don’t forget her fan…”
“Oh, also… Just incase you wanted to get ANYTHING done this weekend… good f**king luck. Quinn cries basically every [five] minutes, and you would think that Penny’s esophagus was on certain fire every [four-and-a-half] seconds.
She’ll need constant refills, which leads to more potty breaks. Sometimes, she can go by herself, and sometimes, she’s completely useless and will whine about everything.
Including, but not limited to, her underwears feeling funny. Have backup underwears.
Oh, and since you made me get rid of most every sippy cup, leaving me with [two]… she’ll lose those. Good f**king luck finding them.