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One in four Americans did not read a single book in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center poll. In 1978, that number was 8 percent. By 2005 it was 16 percent.
(Here’s that full Pew study on Americans and reading.)
Here’s the problem with all this: reading is good for you. It can improve your health, for one. It obviously exposes you to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new ways to process information. All these things are valuable in your work, your personal interactions, and numerous other contexts.
From that same IDoneThis article linked at the top, here’s a good Warren Buffett anecdote:
A reporter in Buffett’s office once asked him how to get smarter. He held up of stacks of nearby papers.
“Read 500 pages like this every day,” he said. “That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”
I need to get better at this, personally. I read a book in the past year (probably several), but I don’t read enough — it’s not a primary focus activity for me, and maybe that explains some of my issues around concerns about purpose, depression, etc. My wife reads all the time. Some of it is shlock like Criminal Minds fan fiction or whatever, but some of it is powerful, legit content. I’m trying to read about the Rwandan genocide right now but I’m only at about 30 percent of the book on iPad so far. I guess it’s time to try harder.
I’d assume this decline-in-reading-books stat probably correlates with two other social developments of the past 30-40 years or so:
- Everyone seems to think they’re extremely busy with everything
- Social media/easier sharing of information made “snackable” content the rage for a lot of people
The third one would be:
- What 15 year-old right now is probably inclined to read books outside of what they have to do for school? (A generalization, yes.)
Have you seen a decline in your own personal reading?