New Study Confirms Growing Up in a Home Filled With Books Is Good for You

iStock.com/clu
iStock.com/clu

People who buy more books than they can possibly read can now use science to justify their spending sprees. As Pacific Standard reports, new research confirms that people who grow up with books at home tend to have higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills.

But how many books is enough to make a difference? The magic number seems to be above 80, according to a team of researchers led by senior sociology lecturer Joanna Sikora of Australian National University. Those who had around 80 books at home tended to have average scores for literacy—defined as "the ability to read effectively to participate in society and achieve personal goals”—while owning fewer than 80 books was associated with below-average literacy. Literacy continued to improve as the number of books increased to about 350, at which point the literacy rates remained steady.

Their findings are based on comprehensive surveys taken between 2011 and 2015 by the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies. Respondents were between the ages of 25 and 65, and they came from 31 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. First, they were asked to estimate how many books they had at home when they were 16 years old. After racking their brains for a mental image of their childhood libraries, they were tested for reading comprehension, their understanding of common mathematical concepts, and their ability to use digital technology as a communication tool. The results showed a positive correlation between these skill sets and having books at home.

"Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education, or [one's] own educational or occupational attainment," the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Social Science Research.

The greatest impact, not surprisingly, was seen in the area of reading comprehension. Likewise, a 20-year study from 2010 suggested that access to a home library impacts a child’s educational attainment just as much as their parents’ occupations and education levels. Researchers aren’t sure if digital books will have the same positive effects if they eventually outnumber printed materials, but the team behind this latest study did point out that “home library size is positively related to higher levels of digital literacy.”

[h/t Pacific Standard]

The Books You Should Pack For 4 Types of Flights

iStock/ baona
iStock/ baona

Choosing the right book for traveling is never easy: If it's one you haven't started yet, there's the fear that it won't be good and you'll get stuck. But bring a book you have begun, and the consequences could be worse: You might finish it mid-flight with nothing more to read. To solve the book/flight conundrum, here’s a list of recommendations by trip type.

1. SHORT COMMUTER FLIGHTS

DEAR EVAN HANSEN BY STEVEN LEVENSON AND BENJ PASEK

For short flights, consider reading a play: The majority are written to last around two hours, after all. And if you’re flying into or out of New York, make it Broadway. Thematically, Steven Levenson’s original work that eventually transformed into Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen is like a modern-day version of the play Our Town. Like the Thornton Wilder classic—which we also recommend—Dear Evan Hansen uses youth and relationships to show how we all crave connection in an increasingly isolated world. If a play’s not your thing, author Val Emmich’s novelization of the same name is also available.

2. CROSS-COUNTRY TRIPS

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD BY CHARLES DICKENS

On longer flights, delve into a mid-length classic. Like the rest of his novels, Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood deals with the problems of poverty, focusing on inheritances that may or may not arrive. What makes Drood unique and the perfect length for flights? Dickens died before he finished writing it, so it’s not very long (at least compared his other works). Consider an edition with supplemental commentary (like Modern Library Classics) in case you get delayed.

ON THE ROAD BY JACK KEROUAC

For those who like their tomes more complete, there’s Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, an autobiographical novel about freedom, travel, and youth. Bonus points if you’re flying to San Francisco, where he and other Beat writers made their name.

3. LONG-HAUL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

SHE WOULD BE KING BY WAYETU MOORE

Wayetu Moore’s She Would Be King uses the power of story to show the injustice African women face across time and place. From a plot perspective, the novel describes how the country of Liberia began. But on a deeper level, Moore crafts a world where women undeniably are not victims: They are a driving, creation force.

BECOMING MRS LEWIS BY PATTI CALLAHAN

Patti Callahan’s Becoming Mrs Lewis describes how theologian CS Lewis met his wife. But this isn’t the shallow love story its name might suggest: Literary in nature, Becoming Mrs Lewis takes time to digest, making it perfect for longer trips. Well-structured and impeccably researched, characterization drives this story to completion with a narrative so intimate, you’ll forget you’re on a plane.

ONCE UPON A RIVER BY DIANE SETTERFIELD

Set to publish December 4—just in time for holiday vacation—Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River explores the lives of multiple characters after one man finds a girl who appears to be dead in the Thames. With the richness of her language, the author creates a mystery where all the characters' stories intersect. They all claim the child is theirs—not for her sake, but for their own. In this story, every word matters, and you'll enjoy wading through all the stories to find the truth about the little girl and where she really came from.

4. TRIPS WITH A LAYOVER:

THE O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES 2018 OR PEN AMERICA BEST DEBUT SHORT STORIES 2018

Short stories are ideal for commuter flights, as you can finish one then gauge how much time's left before starting another. They’re also great for layovers for the same reason: Interruptions don’t mean pulling yourself out of the story; they come naturally as you move from one tale (or plane) to another. And if you don’t like one, you can always skip it and move on. That’s why we recommend anthologies over single-author collections.

Knopf Doubleday’s The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018, a 20-story anthology, or Catapult’s PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2018, a collection of 12. Both include the best short fiction published by literary magazines over the last year. Together, they serve as a greatest hits list for contemporary fiction, a way to quickly get up to speed on what’s being published without slogging through journal after journal.

THE OTHER WOMAN BY SANDIE JONES

Want to stick to novels instead? Pick up Sandie Jones’s The Other Woman, a psychological thriller where the “other woman” the main character’s soon-to-be mother-in-law. It’s fairly light reading, which means you won’t lose track when you have to change planes. The deeper you get into the story, the more compelling it becomes, so you’ll definitely want power through to the ending before you land.

Rupert Grint Reveals He Almost Left Harry Potter After Goblet of Fire

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

The Harry Potter franchise, from books to films to spin-off films, has become so ingrained in popular culture that it has more or less become the defining serialized media to represent Generation Y. The movies, a vital aspect of the franchise's structure, became a crucial platform for veteran British thespians to introduce themselves to young audiences.

It also shoved a generation of young actors to the forefront of Hollywood culture, probably sooner than they were ready—and almost certainly more abruptly than they were prepared for. In a recent interview, ​Rupert Grint, who starred as the oafish but loyal Ron Weasley from the time he was
11, revealed that he considered leaving the series after the fourth movie due to the stress it was causing him.

"It’s a big sacrifice," Grint told ​Independent. "You take for granted anonymity, just doing normal stuff, just going out. Everything was different and a little bit scary. There were times when I was like, 'I’m done.'"

During the period in question, Grint had just finished taking the GCSEs, a standardized test in Britain, and was considering moving on from acting. "I thought, ‘Do I actually ​want to keep doing this? It’s a bit of a drag,'" he admitted.

Thankfully, ​Grint persevered through to the end of the series, though he faced the same dilemma once he was finished with the films.

"When I started, [acting] was never something that I aspired to do," he explained. "I did acting with school plays and stuff like that. But it was never something that I actively dreamed of. I mean, I fell in love with it while I was doing it."

Grint has taken something of a leisurely pace since the series wrapped back in 2011, signing up for mostly smaller roles in a smattering of films. However, he has recently ​been making an impact as a television actor, and has drawn praise for his roles on Sick Note and Snatch.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER