Friday, August 28, 2015

The Wellness in Books

Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” There is nothing quite like the wonder and magnificence that a treasured book brings. And when it comes to wellness, taking good care of your books will help them take good care of you, too.

How Your Books Take Care of You

Reading books can brighten your day, take you on awesome adventures, keep your life goals aligned, and help you save cash (why go out and spend moolah when you can curl up with a good book at home?). As if books don’t benefit your life enough, there are actually a myriad of scientific health perks that reading a good book can bring. Think of it as giving your brain a thorough workout. “Parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging," says Ken Pugh, PhD, from Haskins Laboratories. Not only can reading boost your intelligence with new vocabulary and knowledge, but it can also pump up your memory to prevent Alzheimer’s further down the road. “Brainy pursuits make the brain more efficient by changing its structure to continue functioning properly in spite of age-related neuropathologies,” says Robert S. Wilson, PhD, from the Rush University Medical Center.

Reading books also helps you become more empathic and enables you to relate to other people more easily. "Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies," says David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano while doing their research. Who says getting too caught up with Harry’s dilemma against Voldemort doesn’t have applications in real life?

And speaking of getting wrapped up over lots of stuff, reading also helps release tension by de-stressing you. According to cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis , "It really doesn't matter what book you read; by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book, you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination.” So go ahead—snuggle up on the couch with that thick paperback you’ve been holding off forever. It’s good for your health!

How You Take Care of Your Books

Now that you know how good your books are for you, it’s time for you to be good to them back. What do you do with those precious pages once they’re old and yellowed? Do you just leave them lying around for dust and mold to find? The horror!

It doesn’t matter if your books are semi-precious first editions or simply on your bookshelf for sentimental reasons. You still have to care for them, maintain them, and protect them from the elements. The most important thing to do is to keep your books out of direct sunlight. Those harmful UV rays can damage those delicate folds faster than you can say “sunburn”. To keep those covers and jackets from fading, use UV-resistant plastic book covers to wrap your dust jackets with. You can find those covers in craft stores and specialty book supplies shops online.  

Once you’ve got your books indoors, you need to protect them from your oily hands as well. Especially if your books are really old, you need to use acid-free book plastic covers and dust them off regularly. Do so gently though, and don’t use harsh chemical cleaners. Keep them in shelves away from moisture and air vents to prevent the dry heat from cracking the spines and making your books brittle. Preferably, use shelves that are glass-fronted and don’t stuff your books too tightly against each other. If you do, you might end up warping your books or damaging them when you pull them out. Instead, keep similarly sized books lined up together and pull them out carefully from the back, not from the spine. This all seems quite cumbersome, but really, after everything your books have done for you, what’s a little TLC to give back to them?

BONUS: How Your Books Take Care of You—Even After They’re Gone

Now, if you really can no longer preserve your books and keep them as they are, don’t simply throw them away or—heaven forbid—burn them. Remember that you can still make the most out of them by recycling. These do-it-yourself tips can keep the memory of your beloved books with you forever.

For you OC booklovers out there, you can repurpose your old books and turn them into a handy clock. Simply remove the pages from your hardcover book, and poke a hole through the part where you want the hands to go. Purchase a small quartz-movement clock kit, and make sure the theme and color goes well with the cover of the book. You can read about the whole process here:

If you want to make your keepsake book a holder for other keepsakes, you can make a nostalgic storage box out of your hardcover book. With just some plastic food wrap, water, glue, a brush, and some handy skills with a cutter, you can hollow out your book and turn it into a storage box. The full instructions for this beautiful idea can be found here:

Of course, there’s no better way to immortalize a book than to immortalize it with a photo. Turning your book into a picture frame is easy. You just need to cut out a portion of the front cover where you want the photo to go—you don’t even have to destroy the book or anything. Check out the tips and tricks here:

Out of your old books, you can also make a table lamp, a book planter box, a coat rack (yes, a coat rack!), wallpaper, an invisible shelving unit, various ornaments, a vase, a purse, a vintage notebook, a mobile charging dock, and even a whole desk. There are loads of other ways to reuse your old books—you just have to be creative and imaginative enough. After all, your books taught you that, right?

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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