Tag Archive | advice

Getting lost in the story (reflective) – why reading can make us better people

young man sitting on top of bookshelves reading a book

You’ve probably heard readers say things like “Reading that book was like being in that world myself” or

“I was so wrapped up in the story that I lost track of time” or

“That’s the last book in the series?
I want to know more about those characters!”

In the very best sort of books, we lose sight of ourselves, our surroundings, our own troubles, as we immerse ourselves in someone else’s world and struggles and victories. It can be a realistic book or the highest fantasy, a short story or a tome as thick as your leg – if the story and characters feel real to us, then we are transported away from our own existence without moving at all.

A recent research study also showed that reading a compelling story can also improve our own behavior and attitudes, even after our reading is done! “Feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own,” also known as “experience-taking” was studied by Ohio State University researchers in several reading experiments with college students.

OSU assistant professor Lisa Libby noted the difference between  experience-taking and perspective-taking, which is more like looking through a window at someone else’s situation. “Experience-taking is much more immersive — you’ve replaced yourself with the other,” she said. With the right story, readers don’t feel like they are manipulated into being inside the character’s head. “Experience-taking can be very powerful because people don’t even realize it is happening to them. It is an unconscious process,” Libby said.

As you choose to read books with characters who are different from you, you’re giving yourself more ways become a more empathic person, more understanding of differences, more able to see other viewpoints than your own.

And what about reading books filled with people much like you? Then you have opportunities to “try on” their reactions to situations you may not have faced, to take their experiences and learn from them – without having to live through the troubles, trials, and joys yourself.

Here’s to “getting lost in a good book” and to finding our better selves along the way!

Ohio State University (2012, May 7). ‘Losing yourself’ in a fictional character can affect your real life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/05/120507131948.htm

Photo of man sitting on bookshelves reading a book: (c) Microsoft Office clipart.

Ask Elizabeth, by Elizabeth Berkley (book review) – advice on love, life, friends

book cover of Ask Elizabeth by Elizabeth Berkley published by GP PutnamGather up 30,000 teen girls in small group workshops all over the country.

Give each one a journal where she can write any question about relationships, worries, fears, dreams.

Throw all the anonymous questions into a pile and start discussing them.

Talk together. And talk some more. Bring in some advice from experts, but mainly allow the young women in each group to help one another deal with things.

Lay out everything – the good, the sad, the difficult – and share it with others to help them learn and hope and grow strong in this widely available book.

Elizabeth gives advice that matters, like action plans for learning to accept your imperfections, helping a friend who is hurting, and getting to a peaceful place when you and parents argue.

The book discusses the positive signs that you’re in a good romantic relationship, the healing steps for dealing with grief, and ways to discover your life-dream and keep growing as a person.

You’ll be glad that Ask Elizabeth is a nice, flexy paperback as it’s jammed in backpacks, passed from locker to locker, and shared again and again with friends. The Ask-Elizabeth website continues the conversations begun in the book.

Yes, this is the Elizabeth who starred in Saved by the Bell as a teen actress and has gone on to act in movies and television as an adult. Her passion for helping young women grow up with accurate answers and encouragement led her to start the nonprofit Ask-Elizabeth project in 2006.

Do you have any questions for Ask Elizabeth?

Book info: Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body…and Life in General / Elizabeth Berkley. G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Every teen girl has questions about love, life, and herself – but who can you turn to for honest advice? It’s time to “Ask Elizabeth” and get answers you can trust.

How do you know if you have a real friend that cares about you?”
My parents are getting a divorce and I don’t know what to do…”
How do you get a guy (or gal) to know that you’re alive?”
My parents treat me like a baby! How do I get them to give me more freedom?”
“How do I know if I’m just in a bad mood or if I’m depressed?”

Drawing on the opinions shared by young women in her popular workshops and sharing straightforward information from health and relationship experts, former teen star Elizabeth Berkley presents real questions from teen girls with helpful and realistic answers that aren’t just one-size-fits-all.

The book looks like Elizabeth’s scrapbook, with handwritten notes from teens stuck onto pages with colored duct tape, her typewritten answers, and many photos, found objects, and heartfelt stories connecting all the chapters

Readers can dip into just the chapter that deals with an immediate need for answers or read through Ask Elizabeth from cover to cover as they meet high schoolers from many different situations who share their dreams, concerns, fears, and encouragement to help other teens grow into strong women. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)