Here’s an article about why reading is good for your brain. There’s nothing here about why it’s good for your soul — perhaps this goes without saying.
Any reader probably already knows most of the reasons given in the article: Readers are empathetic and experience the world in broader ways. They exercise their brains: “12 reps, morning and evening. Feel the burn.”
The article also reassures us about spoken word. Audiobooks, radio programs, even gossip at work: these are all stories, and it’s the stories that make our brains stronger.
What about television, then? Does that medium count? Does following the stories on Downton Abbey or 30 Rock or Glee provide the same level of exercise? We lose the opportunity to visualize, but do we gain something in exchange?
I suspect that for readers, TV programs are another type of exercise. Like switching from abs to quads as the focal point of one’s routine. If we exercised only our abs, we’d become a bit lopsided. So, keep your brain evenly balanced — read a wide variety of books and give yourself permission to enjoy gossip and TV. (Remember, laughter is good for the heart. How many books make you laugh as much as your favorite comedy program?)