This is interesting. (Though I suppose, like a lot of these publicized studies, one should take it a bit skeptically):
Reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain.
Specifically, reading the Bard and Wordsworth in their original words (and not some simplified English version with the "hard words" taken out) leads to high levels of electrical activity in the brain, and it seems to trigger a sort of contemplation that may actually help a person better than self-help books do. (Self-help books were apparently one of the controls; "Simple English" versions of the original Shakespeare texts were another).
Apparently reading unfamiliar words lights up the brain, and not just in the known "language centers" but also in some areas believed to relate to "autobiographical memory" and emotion.
I know I should be skeptical about any medical/biological study that's touted in the news, but honestly? These findings don't surprise me at all. I've actually said that reading Shakespeare makes me "feel smarter," and I don't mean "feel smarter" in the sense of "I'm toting around Titus Andronicus like a hipster and everyone who sees me is thinking, 'Wow, she must be smart.'" I mean, reading Shakespeare even when no one else knows I am makes me feel smarter - it makes my brain feel, I don't know, more ACTIVE or something. Maybe that's related to the stuff being lighted up on brain scans.
(And now I'm thinking: Maybe it's time to pull out Richard III, which I think is next on my Shakespeare list. Though I will say last night I realized, "Hey, it's January, I won't be traveling for a while so it's OK to start reading something in a huge heavy old book" and I started Sense and Sensibility. Not very far in yet but I'm thinking it's been too long since I read Austen - I love her language, and even though I generally hate snark, I love her mild snarkiness. And wow, is Fanny Dashwood ever an ugly piece of work....it's actually kind of fun to have a book with a character like that, that you can despise so thoroughly. And I already like Elinor Dashwood and even her sort-of-puddingy suitor Edward).
And now I wonder what reading the comments on a typical online newspaper article (or YouTube video) does to your brain. Probably makes some parts of it slam shut, at least temporarily.