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10 essential purchases that'll help you hit your reading goals
It doesn't matter what you're reading, as long as you're reading.
- Studies have shown that reading not only increases intelligence and sharpens emotional capabilities, it can also help reduce the risk of dementia.
- Different types of reading triggers an increase in blood flow to different sections of the brain, so as long as you're reading something, your brain is being exercised.
- When setting reading goals, it's important to remember that it's not the destination that matters but the stories you experience along the way. These products will help make that journey easier and more fun.
How many books are you hoping to read this year? 20? 52? 152, maybe? Whether you're a voracious reader who can breeze through Stephen King's It in one day, or someone who reads at a more deliberate pace, it can be hard to stay on target to achieve your reading goals. There are just so many distractions, and once you reach a certain age it can feel like time is moving at 2x speed. Whatever the obstacle, it's important to not give up and to remember that even if you fall short of that magic number, each new book is an exercise for your brain.
Studies have shown there are many benefits to cracking open a book, especially when it's for pleasure. It can increase empathy and more intelligence while also lowering your risk of mental decline. Reading a book a day, according to a 2018 study conducted in Hong Kong, could be the key to preventing dementia. Not really in the mood to tackle a complicated text? Skimming is still a valid way to get your brain working. Back in 2012, researchers at Stanford observed the brain functions of PhD candidates while they read excerpts from a Jane Austen novel. The subjects were asked to read leisurely at first and then more intently. The study showed an increase in blood flow in the brain during both sessions, but the increase occurred in different areas depending on the type of engagement.
So the moral is that any reading is good reading. This list of products and gadgets will help you keep those pages turning.
Websites and apps that allow you to keep track of your progress are great, but there's something special about keeping a physical journal. This diary has space for all the important details (author, title, page count, genre) and also lined sections where you can jot down notes and opinions.
Available as a monthly Kindle download or a yearly print subscription, the New York Times Book Review covers all of the new releases and upcoming titles so that you never have to waste your time with a bad book. It's also a valuable resource for finding books that were not previously on your radar.
This updated version of the Kindle Paperwhite adds a crucial feature: It's waterproof. With an IPX8 rating, you can accidentally drop this e-reader in a relatively deep pool (two meters) for an hour, fish it out, and keep reading Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys like nothing ever happened.
With a warm tone that's easier on the eyes, three brightness levels, and a 60-hour battery life, this book light is listed as Amazon's Choice with close to 6,000 reviews. Book lights are great if you want to read in bed or another dim setting without disturbing the non-readers around you.
Smartphones can be distracting when you're trying to lose yourself in a good story. Place the phone on Do Not Disturb and instead set a timer with this product, that way reading time is uninterrupted but you also don't go overboard and miss out on an appointment or quality sleep time.
If you're raising a fellow book lover, they'll need a cozy reading nook of their own. This easy to assemble bookcase doubles as a comfortable seating area where young bookworms can devour every bound copy in sight.
How are you supposed to keep on pace with family and friends around? If they can read, these socks will do the shushing for you.
It's easier to keep reading when you're comfortable and not constantly adjusting your specs. These super thin, super lightweight reading glasses are shatterproof, made in the USA, very flexible, and are available in strengths from 1.0x up to 2.5x.
If the book is good enough, reading can be a full body experience. Settle into a comfortable position with this foam-filled lounge cushion. It's designed to support your arms, back, and neck, and the velour cover is soft and warm against your skin.
Will a sherpa-lined hoodie blanket help you with your reading? Probably not, but at least you'll be super cozy while you do it! There is even a big kangaroo pocket where you can stash your paperback during a quick nap.
How do you expect to meet your reading goals if you don't have more books ready and waiting to be read? It's so easy to lose a gift card to the bottom of a purse or a random cranny in your bedroom, but with this bookmark you'll always know where to find it: in the book you should be making progress with every day.
When you buy something through a link in this article, Big Think earns a small affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.
A new study finds that dogs fed fresh human-grade food don't need to eat—or do their business—as much.
- Most dogs eat a diet that's primarily kibble.
- When fed a fresh-food diet, however, they don't need to consume as much.
- Dogs on fresh-food diets have healthier gut biomes.
Four diets were tested<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU5ODI1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjY0NjIxMn0._w0k-qFOC86AqmtPHJBK_i-9F5oVyVYsYtUrdvfUxWQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="1b1e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="87937436a81c700a8ab3b1d763354843" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Credit: AntonioDiaz/Adobe Stock<p>The researchers tested refrigerated and fresh human-grade foods against kibble, the food most dogs live on. The <a href="https://frontierpets.com.au/blogs/news/how-kibble-or-dry-dog-food-is-made" target="_blank">ingredients</a> of kibble are mashed into a dough and then extruded, forced through a die of some kind into the desired shape — think a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_extrusion" target="_blank">pasta maker</a>. The resulting pellets are sprayed with additional flavor and color.</p><p>For four weeks, researchers fed 12 beagles one of four diets:</p><ol><li>a extruded diet — Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe</li><li>a fresh refrigerated diet — Freshpet Roasted Meals Tender Chicken Recipe</li><li>a fresh diet — JustFoodforDogs Beef & Russet Potato Recipe</li><li>another fresh diet — JustFoodforDogs Chicken & White Rice Recipe.</li></ol><p>The two fresh diets contained minimally processed beef, chicken, broccoli, rice, carrots, and various food chunks in a canine casserole of sorts. </p><p>(One can't help but think how hard it would be to get finicky cats to test new diets. As if.)</p><p>Senior author <a href="https://ansc.illinois.edu/directory/ksswanso" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Kelly S. Swanson</a> of U of I's Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences, was a bit surprised at how much better dogs did on people food than even refrigerated dog chow. "Based on past research we've conducted I'm not surprised with the results when feeding human-grade compared to an extruded dry diet," he <a href="https://aces.illinois.edu/news/feed-fido-fresh-human-grade-dog-food-scoop-less-poop" target="_blank">says</a>, adding, "However, I did not expect to see how well the human-grade fresh food performed, even compared to a fresh commercial processed brand."</p>
Tracking the effect of each diet<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU5ODI1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NjY1NTgyOX0.AdyMb8OEcjCD6iWYnXjToDmcnjfTSn-0-dfG96SIpUA/img.jpg?width=980" id="da892" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="880d952420679aeccd1eaf32b5339810" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Credit: Patryk Kosmider/Adobe Stock<p>The researchers tracked the dogs' weights and analyzed the microbiota in their fecal matter.</p><p>It turned out that the dogs on kibble had to eat more to maintain their body weight. This resulted in their producing 1.5 to 2.9 times the amount of poop produced by dogs on the fresh diets.</p><p>Says Swanson, "This is consistent with a 2019 National Institute of Health study in humans that found people eating a fresh whole food diet consumed on average 500 less calories per day, and reported being more satisfied, than people eating a more processed diet."</p><p>Maybe even more interesting was the effect of fresh food on the gut biome. Though there remains much we don't yet know about microbiota, it was nonetheless the case that the microbial communities found in fresh-food poo was different.</p><p>"Because a healthy gut means a healthy mutt," says Swanson, "fecal microbial and metabolite profiles are important readouts of diet assessment. As we have shown in <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jas/article/92/9/3781/4702209#110855647" target="_blank">previous studies</a>, the fecal microbial communities of healthy dogs fed fresh diets were different than those fed kibble. These unique microbial profiles were likely due to differences in diet processing, ingredient source, and the concentration and type of dietary fibers, proteins, and fats that are known to influence what is digested by the dog and what reaches the colon for fermentation."</p>
How did kibble take over canine diets?<p>Historically, dogs ate scraps left over by humans. It has only been <a href="https://www.thefarmersdog.com/digest/the-history-of-commercial-pet-food-a-great-american-marketing-story/" target="_blank">since 1870</a>, with the arrival of the luxe Spratt's Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes—made from "the dried unsalted gelatinous parts of Prairie Beef", mmm—that commercial dog food began to take hold. Dog bone-shaped biscuits first appeared in 1907. Ken-L Ration dates from 1922. Kibble was first extruded in 1956. Pet food had become a great way to turn <a href="https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/animal-by-products/" target="_blank">human-food waste</a> into profit.</p><p>Commercial dog food became the norm for most household canines only after a massive marketing campaign led by a group of dog-food industry lobbyists called the Pet Food Institute in 1964. Over time, for most households, dog food was what dogs ate — what else? Human food? These days more than half of U.S. dogs are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/magazine/who-made-that-dog-biscuit.html" target="_blank">overweight or obese</a>, and certainly their diet is a factor.<span></span></p><p>We're not so special among animals after all. If something's healthy for us to eat—we're <em>not</em> looking at you, chocolate—maybe we should remember to share with our canine compatriots. Not from the table, though.</p>
What makes some people more likely to shiver than others?
Some people just aren't bothered by the cold, no matter how low the temperature dips. And the reason for this may be in a person's genes.
Eating veggies is good for you. Now we can stop debating how much we should eat.
- A massive new study confirms that five servings of fruit and veggies a day can lower the risk of death.
- The maximum benefit is found at two servings of fruit and three of veggies—anything more offers no extra benefit according to the researchers.
- Not all fruits and veggies are equal. Leafy greens are better for you than starchy corn and potatoes.