Happiness is Finding Out That Romance Novels Are Good For You

Okay, it’s actually that reading fiction is great exercise for your memory. Also, everybody here already knew that romance novels were good for us, but it’s always happy-making to get confirmation.

Dr.Richard Restak, quoted in an NYT essay by Hope Reese, said:

“One early indicator of memory issues, according to Dr. Restak, is giving up on fiction. “People, when they begin to have memory difficulties, tend to switch to reading nonfiction,” he said.

Over his decades of treating patients, Dr. Restak has noticed that fiction requires active engagement with the text, starting at the beginning and working through to the end. “You have to remember what the character did on Page 3 by the time you get to Page 11,” he said.

So there you go, fiction is good for your memory.

What do you remember about being happy this week?

98 thoughts on “Happiness is Finding Out That Romance Novels Are Good For You

  1. Well that definitely makes me happy.
    One thing I have noticed though is that I am not as good at reading a book in one go. I don’t know if my shorter attention span is due to bad phone habits or age.
    Anyway, I find it harder these days to get completely lost in a book. It does happen, just not every time anymore.

    1. I have a hard time settling in to read as well, but I figured it was a time thing. I can do hours of an audio book at one go, but rarely have a full hour or two to devote to being still.

      1. I also find it harder to read for long periods I thought it was because there’s usually something else I think I should be doing and feel a bit guilty., And because of other distractions… Like the internet!
        But I’m in holidays at the moment and have happily been reading for hours.

  2. Yay fiction for the win! And romance has been saving my sanity for years.

    Today I am happy because yesterday was our one year wedding anniversary and we haven’t killed each other yet.

    And today we are headed up to Ithaca NY for their fabulous book sale and equally fabulous farmers market. And a really great noodle house. Is there anything better than books and food?

      1. Happy anniversary! Congratulations on no deaths … I hope also no major injuries.

  3. Fiction is also great for mental health. For all the times I’ve been bedridden or house-bound, it gets me out of my head & into the outside world. Huge thank you

  4. I’ve assumed age was at fault for my reduced attention span, Like LN. In some cases, it’s improved taste – I’m less likely to plow through a stinker than I used to be. The article is very good news.

    1. Good point. I can still stay up all night and rip through a book that I am really excited about. It just doesn’t happen as often.

  5. Today I’m happy because I just replied to a Good Book Thursday post and consequently remembered being pregnant and breastfeeding (at the same time for one period), and looked back with happy nostalgia, then doubled the happiness by remembering I never need to do that again.

    Also, I made chocolate chip cookies.
    And had a delicious mother’s day lunch (crispy aubergine, massaman curry, Kung Pao chicken, salmon with miso, chilli fried squid, mmmm, gelato).
    And listened to a Cautionary Tales podcast on mother’s day.

    My cup runneth over.

    Otoh, my son picked our Saturday night family movie. Jojo Rabbit. On Mother’s Day (well, eve). If you’ve seen it, you’ll know.

  6. Reading has gotten me through many challenging times in my life. My mother’s quality of life seriously deteriorated when her macular degeneration made it impossible for her to read.

    I dug invasive plants out of a 20 foot section of my back garden. First step in converting my backyard into a native plant garden. My tulips are blooming which always makes me happy. The tulips on the flower farm are glorious and I came home with flowers every day I worked. Not sure if being paid in flowers is financially feasible all summer but I’m enjoying having all my vases filled with gorgeous spring flowers.

    My birthday was this week and I worked on the farm – planting, weeding and seeding. I had lots of texts and FB messages from my family and friends. DH and DS gave me lovely gifts and we went out to dinner.

    I helped build the second pollinator garden at the Community Garden yesterday. One of the other volunteers came out with a cool fish design for the border. I bought a lovely pottery dish with a flower frog in it from a local artisan. Off to the historical garden this morning for the first work day of the season and I’ll work in my gardens this afternoon. My cup of happiness is overflowing.

    1. Happy Birthday! And, congrats on starting your pollinator garden. I love watching the zillions of native bees hovering around the flowers in my garden.

  7. And thank you to anyone who has done mothering. I don’t know where I would be without all the love from a lot of people, none of whom actually gave birth to me.

  8. Yesterday was a real summer day – I retreated inside for a while after lunch to avoid getting sunburned (I miss the ornamental cherry in sunny weather: it’ll be some years before the replacement apple tree casts enough dappled shade). It was lovely to outside in between some gentle gardening.

    I also enjoyed the bus ride down the Welsh border to the Malvern Spring Show on Friday. The show wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but the scenery was beautiful – and it was fun to bump into a couple of people I knew.

  9. A friend came over to help in the garden (and her foster dog Queso supervised extremely well). I’m way behind because of Covid and the lingering fatigue, so it was nice to at least get a bit more done. Also, to hang out with my friend and her dog, obviously.

    I’m happy because the weather has been beautiful, and I finally got to take a walk, even if it was a much shorter one than usual.

      1. She’s raising a dog for the Guiding Eyes organization, and apparently they name the dogs in alphabetical order. When they got this one, it was time for Q, and there aren’t a lot of good Q names. Hence, Queso.

        1. I suppose Queenie is going out of fashion now.

          I met a golden retriever named Olana because pedigreed dogs are named by a letter corresponding to their birth year. The owners — a Swiss couple who run a B&B in France — thought they’d invented a new name. Then they were told by American visitors about the historical residence Olana along the Hudson River which was the home of painter Frederic Church.

  10. Since I retired, there is no appeal in non-fiction for me. I get excited about certain new non-fiction books, but even when I have them, I can’t bring myself to read much of them. Fiction is so comforting. Romance fiction is warming.

    I am happy that it was finally cool enough and the grass was dry enough that I got both yards mowed, at last! There was still some dry brown grass in the yards, but there were also some green clumps over a foot high. It looks better, now. Every neighbor also mowed on Saturday! We finally got a break from the sprinkles every day and had an actual rain. After that, the sun did its work.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all those who have mothered someone or something. I saw 10 bunnies on my walk today! And there was an opossum on my patio in the morning yesterday, who camped out on my fence where there is an old honeysuckle vine, until I took her some food and set it nearby. I know it was a female, because as she climbed over the fence to leave after eating, she went face down on the other side, and I saw her pouch! One mystery solved.

  11. Happiness this week was lunch with a friend of nearly 50 years, spilling my guts to her yet again and finding we still have things to talk about and enjoy each other’s company. Yesterday was a dear “mother” of mine’s 98th birthday, and I celebrate her.
    Today another childless friend and I are going to an art exhibit and then for ice cream to celebrate her birthday.
    Happy Mother’s Day to those of you brave enough to have children.

  12. Happiness today is arriving in Spain after a long ferry trip (30 hours) where I could read, knit and sleep without thinking there was something else I should be doing.

    Have set off cycling which makes me happy too even with hills and rain. Though too much of either will reduce happiness.

  13. Must read the article in full, but the conclusion bodes well for me 🙂
    I’ve always been an avid reader. When the kids complain about being bored, I cannot help but notice how many of their books are still on the tar pile, unread.

    I had noticed years and years ago that when I couldn’t get into reading fiction, I wasn’t really in a good state of mind.
    Shortly after having the kids this became the default setting – loosing myself into the story of a book got difficult.

    But the situation has improved significantly and I guess I’m back to “normal”. It helps that these days I usually read more fluffy books and escapism. Life is not that pleasant most times that I want to bother with depressing stories.
    Have noticed that this is true for films as well:
    The daughter has plans to work through imdb’s “Movies you have to have watched” with her friends. We compared how many I have seen and I came away with a rather small number: most are typical “male” movies, none was a comedy, not to speak of chick-flik or romance. They were mostly films centered around the Mafia, war, horror, heroism, such stuff. Go figure. I know that most of them are considered classics, but I can live without having seen tons of artificial blood splattered on the screen.

    Now back to reading…

    1. I have to agree with your choices of reading material and movies. Movies directed by women are often much better for women, and there are just too few of those. The RomComs are the best, and a wonderful escape. Whose opinion/list was this? No comedies? One of my favorite movies of all time is What’s Up Doc?

      1. That movie is a family favourite. To this day my brothers and I quote it to make my mother laugh.

      2. The daughter and her friends looked up the imdb 250 best films list:

        The top ten there are:
        1. Shawshank Redemption
        2. Godfather
        3. The Dark Knight
        4. Godfahrt 2
        5. 12 Angry Men
        6. Schindler’s List
        7. LotR Return of the King
        8. Pulp Fiction
        9. LotR The Fellowship
        10. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

        I can’t stand Mafia movies and don’t care if they are cult classics one must have seen.
        I have seen and loved the 12 Angry Men as back in the time old classics were shown on tv in German television. Nowadays it’s far more difficult as the quality of tv has severly gone down imho.
        Thanks to dh I’ve seen all LotR films as he is a fan (I’m less so) – the Extra material on the DVDs about all what went into making them was more thrilling to me ;-).

        I’ve seen Pulp Fiction (as well as Inglorious Basterds), but I absolutely cannot stand Quentin Tarantino’s films, Far too violent for me. It’s the casualness of violence and blood splattering that bothers me. It’s glorification of violence imho.
        What’s cool about killers and killing???
        I take it it would have been cool to deal with Hitler by explosion – it has been tried in Munich by Georg Elser, sadly didn’t work.
        The kids had no way to escape The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, as dh is a MAJOR fan of those films, lol, but the daughter was mightily surprised that none of her friends knew this one.
        Schindler’s List is haunting, as is The Pianist (a bit further down the Top 250-list), but I encourage the girls to watch those films as no. 1 Shawshank Redemption. Must-see-films for sure.

        Nothing comedic until no. 30 – Back to the Future and no. 45 Intouchables.

        1. I quite enjoyed Inglorious Bastards, but my kids aren’t old enough for it to be on the family movie night menu yet!

        2. Every one of those is a downer. I’d have had Princess Bride at the top of the list. It has everything one could ask for in a memorable movie, and you leave it smiling.
          I’m with you on Tarantino for the most part, though I did enjoy Kill Bill (both).

        3. Are there any major women’s roles in any of these films? It feels like a roll-call of “guy films”.

          1. Kelly, I find Princess Bride a “guy film” and can’t understand why girls and women like it so much. Buttercup is stupid and stubborn and lacks any understanding of what’s going on, especially with Wesley. Weird.

        4. I like the YouTube videos of the Danish (?correct Scandinavian country?) National Orchestra performing music from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and other movie music from the same composer.

  14. I’m happy this week because I’m in St Petersburg, Florida for the week with my husband, two nephews and nephew’s girlfriend. We are headed out to wander around in the glorious sunshine on the wharf. My husband is not so happy to be here because he is giving side eye to the state laws and politics. Can’t blame him but still going to enjoy the day.

      1. Yes apparently making up for the pandemic. This summer though will be different. I complained that both our families who live out west always expect us to visit them so now they are all coming to see us. We are hosting almost non stop from June to September. Hoist by own own petard.

  15. It’s my favorite weekend of the year here because there’s a hippie festival, I’m not being forced to go out of town during it like I thought I was going to have to, I went to another town festival on Friday and watched Eurovision Saturday, also did karaoke. Getting taken out for breakfast for my birthday (a few weeks ago) today too.

  16. My parents are still dealing with flare ups, hot spots, and smoke but they are at home and forging ahead. They had a bad break-out fire that took out most of the bush on the east side of the quarter but was contained fairly quickly. They were quite upset by that because they really liked the trees and were not going to be turning that into pasture.

    Mom sent me a photo of the scorched corner of the siding around the trailer so that was how close they came to losing their home. It was pretty scary.

    No power yet but soon. Dad will have to string power line and then connect it to the main line, the power company doesn’t handle that part of things.

    There must be fire crews out patrolling because my dad was awake in the night and he saw someone in the yard putting out a small fire. They have had lots of help from friends and neighbors, many of whom are dealing with their own damaged farms.

    In their “neighbourhood” no one lost their house, in the area to the east and on the other side of the river one house was lost, and in the community near where the fire started a bunch of houses were lost. Not all were occupied but about half were.

    If you have any extra rain, send it on over.

    Today I’m going to a local greenhouse to get some stuff and I’ll be listening to my audio book and keeping my memory sharp.

    1. Thanks for the update. We had rain to spare this morning. I saw the remnants of two wrecks on my way to work that were likely caused by the downpour. Will try to send some your way.

  17. I always think of fiction as an interactive experience between the author and the reader, so this news sounds plausible.

    It’s also interesting timing re memory work for me because I’ve recently started doing crossword puzzles after listening to an interview with Carol Burnett (who just turned 90 and is still whip sharp) and she said she starts each day with crossword puzzles. And I remember Betty White saying she also did them daily and she was sharp witted, too. Plus the best at Password, of course.

    I’m a big word game person but wasn’t so big on crossword puzzles as an adult. But now I’m doing some nice easy ones and it is interesting to see the different sort of mental gymnastics they offer.

    I also recently began doing Wordle every day. I do both the French and the English versions. At first I wasn’t interested when the “craze” began because I didn’t see the big deal since the game seemed to be just a mix of word Mastermind and a game called Jotto –both games I knew from childhood and Jotto is still popular with hubby and me. But since each game only takes a couple minutes, I decided to add them to my day anyway. so far, I’m liking Wordle and finding it a great warmup to writing.

    But I think I’m an easy sell on all this stuff because I’ve always loved books and word play.

    Wishing all the moms here a Happy Mother’s Day:)

    1. I do the Wordle and Quordle every morning and I do at least three New York Times crosswords a week. I love the sundae one because it’s so much fun and I love the Mundy one because it’s so easy. And makes me feel smart. I’m still spending my time rereading more than anything else. part of it is a style thing while editing my own stuff. I did read a mid grade children’s book the lion of mars this week because I needed to read it to fifth graders at reading to kids yesterday.
      I wish all of you who do mothering and that I think it’s everyone of you a happy Mother’s Day

    2. I do Wordle, the Atlantic Crossword, and the WaPo crossword every day, and Wordplay when I just need a break. I have no idea if they’re keeping me sharp, but I like all of them except the Atlanta crossword which is just annoying with its weird clues and answers. And yet I keep playing.

      1. Ooh. I haven’t tried those crosswords. Will give them a try too, although probable won’t get far with that Atlantic one, lol.

      2. I do Wordle too, after having resisted it for a long time. I have a running game with my stepdaughter, but otherwise just do the daily ones. I did crossword puzzles for years, but I don’t seem to have the patience for them anymore.

      3. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started doing the NYT crossword every day. Since then, I have slowly added Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Wordle, LeMot (Wordle in French), Octordle, Worldle, Globle, Statele, Where Taken World, Where Taken USA, Semantle, Semantle Jr., Word Connection, and now Digits (the new NYT number game in beta) to my daily puzzle habit. It’s completely out of control and very time consuming. I don’t know if it’s helping my memory; I had two big lapses in short-term memory recently. However, I apparently have no problem concentrating on puzzles or staying up all night reading. I wish I could say the same for all the important stuff I *should* be doing.

      4. I remember the double-crostics in Faking It and how mom (Gwen) would get annoyed with the clues. Was that inspired by the Atlantic Crossword, or by genuine double-crostics?

    3. I restarted Crosswords, too. There are newer editions of the NYT crossword books, finally. I started with the Monday book to refresh my memory of the esoteric crossword vocabulary. I will move on to Tuesday, once I complete those.

      1. I should go back to crosswords. And Sedoku. I do wordle, quordle(daily and sequence), blossom, and wordiply.

    4. I like crosswords. I found a good app that has several levels. I leave them all open (except the minis – I don’t like those so much), but you can set what level you want. It’s by Redstone Games. I think I must have bought it, since I don’t get ads. There are thousands of games in it, and they post new ones every day.

  18. My mother (83, still reads a lot) does crosswords and my father (85, on the computer all day but mostly having to do with their investments) does Sudoku. I haven’t taken up either yet because time. Once we’re all in the same place, I think I’ll try to get them into Scrabble, one of the few games I’ve ever truly enjoyed. Considering how much I read, and the tons of stuff I remember don’t even when I don’t want to, not concerned about memory as yet. 🙂

    Happy this week was the countdown to vacation, finishing new short story at 8100 words, and lunch out yesterday with my BFF. We met at a ‘California Italian’ cafe that has an outdoor dining area now and stayed for three hours. <3

    1. Have you tried Banagrams? Similar to Scrabbke and uses tiles but moves at a much faster pace compared to the glacial Scrabble.

    2. I also do some Sudoku. Also great for revving my brain when I’m getting ready to write or for when I need a break.

    3. I love my fake-Scrabble word game on my phone. I have it set to Normal so I almost always beat the computer.

    4. I like the online puzzles called “cricklers.” They are daily lists of blank spaces that you fill with letters to form synonyms of the given prompt. Vowels are marked, so if you get the prompt “city in Ontario” and it reads “___ _*_ ___ _*_ ___ ___ _*_” you don’t have to think very hard. It’s a quick break from doing online work or browsing an article you realize you are bored with.

  19. Happiness is also walking around the house with camera/phone and documenting the progress of Woman at Work III, the dotter’s landscaping-in-progress. She’s in Elizabeth City visiting family, ours and her Significant Otter’s.

  20. Happy to have had a pleasant visit to MIL today. DH was right that she had no idea it was Mother’s Day but was pleased we came.

    Boss is out of town for 2 weeks, so I have extra time. Had hoped to tame the wilderness that are my flowerbeds, but need rain to loosen up the high cost content “soil” and none forecasted so may have to concentrate on house cleaning instead. Which would also be nice to have done.

    Read and enjoyed “Tea Coup” and about to move on to book 2 – thank you Gary. Reminds me of “Cici and the Curator” in some undefinable way.

    1. That hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you mention it I can see what you mean.

  21. A friend’s mother had advanced dementia the last few years before she died, and yet she read fiction around the clock. I always wondered how the stories could make sense to her, because she really had zero short-term memory. But it made her happy. She sailed through the pandemic, seemingly unaffected by not having visitors, as long as she had books.

    My happy today is having a new dishwasher (and it’s even installed now) after about five years without one (and five or more years before then of it not working well). And my cats are happy to have the box it came in.

    1. Our Mr. Fluffypants (of course) loves boxes too, but his very favorite thing is finding the tall paper yardwaste bag that you are carefully filling with sticks, bamboo trimmings etc., and pouncing on the side of it until it falls down and he can walk inside to inspect its plumbing. It’s a rewarding summer chore to share with him.

  22. I still enjoy some non-fiction but I’ve got to admit the non-fiction to be read pile is a lot bigger than the fiction pile.

    I used to be able to read an engrossing book all night, cover to cover, start to finish but now find that sleep and delayed gratification suits me better.

    Thought I was going to get my container gardens finished and the overwintering plants outside but it looks like we’re in for a cold night Wednesday into Thursday so I’m putting that off.

    Primary election is Tuesday here in PA so I’ll be busy with vote stuff for the next 3 weeks. And that makes me happy.

  23. I read very little non-fiction – it seldom engages me the way fiction does. And I too read much fluffier books than I used to. Occasionally I’ll read something more serious (and congratulate myself if I get through it), but romance, fantasy, SF, crime (not too violent) are my main choice these days.

    And what brought me a lot of happiness this week? My kids’ book Rita’s Revenge won the Russell Prize for Humour Writing for Young People. The best thing about the award was that the shortlist was chosen by adults, but the winner was chosen by a panel of kids. Making children laugh has to be a good thing.

    1. Congratulations. Kids have different humor than adults. That had to be a challenge.

  24. This week has progressed from okay to magnificent, partly because my continuing “travelers diarrhea” just ended yesterday (after 2+ weeks, equalling most of the trip). Also, I’ve worked out in my head all the weirdnesses of the trip and feel comfortable now.

    Fiction for memory? Makes sense to me. Also, in non-fiction I prefer narrative history to a list of wars. An story line engages my attention. Characterizations and social details help me remember. Of course, good narrative history requires an excellent historian, tons of reasearch, and really tops writing ability. In non-fiction I want truth as well as a story line.

    Actually, I want truth in fiction, too.

  25. My Mom and Dad didn’t read much at the end, but I think that was a function of other parts of their health failing. Because if reading fiction keeps your memory sharp, the number of mysteries my Mom read should have preserved her memory for decades!

    I subscribe to a very small and easy daily online crossword puzzle that makes me happy. It rarely challenges me, but it does provide a much appreciated spot of sunshine in my inbox. The funny thing is that when I was trying to decide what I was going to post today, Crossword Corner was the first thing that came to mind.

  26. Well, for Mother’s Day I got a backup child.
    My nephew is living with us for 6 weeks during a congressional internship.
    This chance to know him better makes me happy .
    Also the commitment ceremonies are progressing nicely.

  27. One happiness came in the form of the movie The Colour Room about the life of Clarice Cliff. I haven’t found it available here (USA) but today I found it free on Freevee! And it is good…

    I have been seeking laughter lately. I mentioned Ismo the comedian from Finland that I watch on youtube videos. He is very funny.

    Now I have found another funny man: David Nihill. Watch the youtube video of his titled Documented – you will ROFL and you might not be able to get up.

    On a serious note – has anyone ever used a WRITING MENTOR to help in writing a novel? I need help & my critique group is not the answer this time. Their advice is meant to keep me inside the box and for this story to get told I need to write outside the box. For instance – even if I gently remind them that Elmore Leonard said don’t write what people don’t read – they still want pages on the system my main character is using to be briefly underwater. I would skip that.* I don’t want to write that. But I do need some accountability.
    *Those of you who love competence porn – much respect – it’s just not always my thing.

    Hope everyone had a good day!

    1. I think sometimes writers outgrow their critique groups (not in a judgmental sense, so maybe it’s more like taking a different fork in the road from the rest of the group), and it’s time to move on. At least, that was my experience, with groups that worked for me for a while and then just didn’t. And to some extent, it is a judgmental thing — advice that stays in the box can be really useful for a beginner writer who may not know things like “describing the character in a mirror is a cliche” or POV issues, etc. But later on, when the writer knows those things and has mastered them, and may be intentionally exploring how to break those rules without damaging the story, but the rest of the group is still stuck on looking for basic rules-breaking, the insights are no longer useful, and more advanced feedback is needed.

      I don’t have experience with mentors/coaches, but I’ve had a sort of accountability friend at times when we both needed to be gently nudged into productivity. For me, it was a matter of “can’t let down the team, so I’ve got to write today,” giving myself some accountability, even when there weren’t any real consequences to not writing. We didn’t share substantive critiques — we write very different genres and aren’t into the other’s genre — just daily (or thereabouts) check-ins to confirm that we did indeed do some writing, and to celebrate that fact. I’ve found that helpful, while I haven’t found substantive critiques helpful generally in many years (except from my agent or editors).

      I should note that an accountability friend doesn’t have to be a writer, just someone who needs to get stuff done (in ways that can be quantified like “wrote 500 words today,” so “walked X steps today” would work). Accountability friends (teams?) are a lot less of a commitment than critiques, but you need someone who’s at the same level of productivity commitment that you are. I was in a group once where some members wrote once a month, and I was trying to write every day, so obviously that didn’t work for accountability.

      1. That’s helpful Gin, thanks! It pains me to think it may be time to leave the group behind but I’ve thought it more than once. I’ve censured myself sometimes because I know what they’ll say and it’s not always useful.

        Accountability partner does sound like more what I need than mentor.

        1. It’s hard to leave a group, but sometimes it’s necessary or you stagnate. Someone with more writing experience (and success) than me once told me that critique groups tend not to last more than a couple years before dissolving as people and their needs change. There are some excetions of course, but as I’ve gained more experience (she was my first fiction instructor), I do think she was right.

  28. How do some of you get an actual photo to show on your posts instead of the cute cartoons?

    1. We’ve set up a Gravatar. I’m afraid I did it years ago, so can’t remember the process, except that it was really simple. Once you’ve done it, your photo will appear on any site you post to that has enabled Gravatars – which seems to be most of them, although I rarely post anywhere but here.

      1. If you google “How to create a gravatar” you’ll get sites, youtube videos, and tutorials galore. In my case, I had a WordPress account and went from there. It isn’t difficult.

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