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Time to dig out that Jane Austen classic…
Do you love to read classic novels? It’s good news if you do because a new study has found that regularly reading literature could help to boost your brain power and improve your life satisfaction — even more than self-help books.
The study, which was conducted by the University of Liverpool, discovered that reading classic stories could send “rocket boosters” to the brain and help those suffering from depression, anxiety, chronic pain and dementia, too. Time to dust off your Jane Austen classics…
Professor Philip Davis, who led the study, said that reading classic novels frees our imagination and lets people feel more alive. He told The Sunday Times: “If you’re just scanning for information, you go fast, it’s very easy, it’s automatic. But when literature begins to do something more complicated than that, the brain begins to work. It gets excited, it gets emotional.”
Also commenting on the study, Zoe Gilling from charity The Reader, said: “We define ‘great’ as literature that has the power to touch diverse people and illuminate what connects us. It can help with inner life, mental health, soul troubles and make us say, ‘I never knew anyone but me felt that'”.
It’s no surprise that getting lost in a good book works wonders for our health: Previous studies uncovered that those who regularly read are in fact kinder than others, while another study discovered that reading strengthens your brain.
Planning on reading a book with a cuppa this afternoon? Why not put down your phone and choose a much-loved classic…
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Reelig Glen, located near Inverness, Scotland, wonderfully resembles the enchanted wood described in Enid Blyton’s famous The Faraway Tree book series.
Its enormous magical trees stand some 64 meters tall, making them the tallest in the UK, and remarkably similar to the gigantic tress described in the stories. The children in the book regularly visit the enchanted wood and climb the Faraway Tree where they encounter various magical people and dreamlike lands.
The forest transports visitors to Blyton’s mystical location with options to walk along crafted trails (including the tall trees trail) and has plenty of space to run around and play.
Although not quite the location Roald Dahl described in his 1982 book The BFG, Scotland’s The Isle of Skye has become synonymous with the film of the same name released in 2016.
The story takes place in a few locations, the most magical of which is Giant Country, where The BFG (short for the Big Friendly Giant) takes orphan Sophie.
Covered in rocky hills and slopes, this island off the north of Scotland presents an extraordinary rugged landscape which can be easily accessed and trekked.
York’s historic Shambles, which dates as far back as the 14th century, has grown in popularity amongst Harry Potter fans over the years.
The street has similarities to Diagon Alley, a magical shopping market where Harry and his friends get their wands, owls and generally anything not fit for muggles’ eyes.
Recently coined York’s real life Diagon Alley, the street is even home to two Potter themed shops and attracts thousands of visitors wanting to experience a day trip to the wizarding world.
JRR Tolkien’s epic novel The Lord of The Rings offers numerous fantasy locations of amazing magnitude. However, the “glittering caves of Helm’s Deep” is one of the most otherworldly, and can be experienced in Somerset.
Although not the exact glittering caves mentioned in Tolkien’s book, The Cheddar Gorge Caverns are said to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s The Two Towers. They can still be described as “immeasurable halls, filled with an everlasting music of water that tinkles into pools”, just as the glittering caves are defined in the book.
The perfect place for a family day out, you can even indulge in rock climbing.
Born in 1866 in London, Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist.
As a child she spent her summers in the Lake District lapping up the beauty of the area that she painted, and it was this area that inspired many of the settings in her famous books.
In 1905, she bought Hill Top Farm and moved to the Lake District permanently, adding extra plots of land as her books made more money so as to preserve the unique hill side landscape.
Today, Hill Top Farm is part of the National Trust. Members can drop by to see Beatrix Potter’s home and the iconic gardens and lake which inspired Jemima Puddle-Duck and Tom Kitten.
READ: Review of Beatrix Potter tour of the Lake District
Winnie-the-Pooh is possibly the most treasured bear of all time – his famous stories have been captivating children since 1926.
The tales, set in the Hundred Acre Wood in the beautiful surroundings of Ashdown Forest, allow for the most wonderful of woodland adventures for all who visit.
Pick up a map of the forest allowing you to follow in the great bear’s footsteps from the visitor centre. The path culminates at Pooh’s much-loved bridge where you can take a moment to play Pooh Sticks – the honey loving bear’s favourite game.
Perhaps one of the most magical settings of all time is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from the Harry Potter series written by J K Rowling.
Used to film the interior scenes of Hogwarts in many of the movies, including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the castle walls are magical for fans of all ages.
Whilst both the Warner Bros. Studio Tours in Watford and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios create an immersive experience, Lacock Abbey offers a more authentic and less crowded Potter location to visit.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy follows the life of Mildred Hubble, a well-meaning yet clumsy witch in training who never seems to get anything right.
A large amount of the book series is set within the walls of a girls-only school, which is housed in a castle surrounded by vast plush forest.
Fans of the books can visit this fictional setting in real life, at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire. Its resemblance to the description of the book is so close that it’s even the filming location of the CBBC TV adaptation of the book.
The world of Narnia, the primary setting from CS Lewis’ book The Chronicles of Narnia, is loved amongst children worldwide for its enchanting surroundings and magical inhabitants.
Trek through the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland and you’ll be instantly transported there, especially if you visit during the snowy months when the weather matches that described in the first book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe chronicles.
Lewis regularly holidayed in these mountains saying that the scenery “made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise its head over the next ridge”.
The landscape was a huge inspiration for the Narnia stories, so much so that visitors can now walk along the ‘Narnia Trail’ which seeks to capture the imagination of children of all ages.