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Ditch the self-help manual and read Dickens?

Classic works of literature can boost your brain and relieve depression, chronic pain and dementia - but self-help books are a waste of time. So says a new book, "Reading for Life" by Prof. Philip Davis, published by Oxford University Press. Unusual phrases and unfamiliar words encountered in great works of literature command the undivided attention of readers, provoking moments of self-reflection and generally boosting the brain.

The book is based upon research by Liverpool University which hooked readers up to brain scanners as they read texts by Dickens, Shakespeare and T.S. Elliot. In one instance a dementia patient given a book to read stunned researchers by speaking for the first time in months. However, self-help books do not improve mental health because they do little to 'ignite the brain'!

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