In 2015, the average American read 12 books a year, but that number is skewed by those of us who read many, many more than that. The most reported number of books read is 4, and I know plenty of people who haven’t read a single book in the last year.
That blows my mind! I couldn’t function without reading, and if you told me I could only read 12 books in a year, I’d cry. Truthfully. Then I’d just read those 12 books over and over.
The same study reported that people in the US only spend about 5 hours, 45 minutes reading every week. Give me a day off, and I’ll do that in a day. Not even a challenge.
I think reading is important for a lot of reasons. Studies have indicated that reading fiction increases empathy, vocabulary, and prevents cognitive decline.
Reading is a cheap vacation, a good antidepressant, and quieter than TV.
There’s also a phenomenon called popcorn brain. Basically, with all the short bits of information we’re taking in all the time, we’re training our brains to be less able to pay attention.
People are interested in reading. Whenever I’m out with a book, I see people trying to check out my book cover, and people do frequently ask what I’m reading and if it’s good. This used to annoy me, but it annoys me less now that I seldom see people reading books in public. I’m trying to set a good example.
Books are sold in every store; they’re in grocery stores, warehouse stores, pharmacies, etc.
People want to read. So why aren’t they?
Here are some responses to the most common excuses I hear…
If you don’t have enough time to read…
- Never go anywhere without a book. There’s always dead time. I read while waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting at appointments, while I’m stirring a pot on the stove. If I happen to forget my book (and it does happen), no problem! I have the kindle app on my phone, and I can go to the library webpage, download a digital book, and I’m back in business!
- Turn off the TV. I get it; you’re invested in watching The Walking Dead. Me too. But there are only 16 episodes a year, at 45 minutes each, which means that’s only a 12-hour annual commitment in your life. Or if you don’t want to turn off the TV, at least read during commercials.
- Limit social media. Do you remember that really important thing you were reading on social media yesterday? No? Then it wasn’t important. Stop checking it so often. Life’s too short to devote energy to stuff that doesn’t matter.
- Try audiobooks. I didn’t get on the audiobook train that long ago, but there really are a lot of great, well-narrated audiobooks out there. Audiobooks can be listened to while driving, exercising, cleaning the house, walking the dog, browsing for groceries… the list goes on.
- Set a small goal. If you want to read more but don’t have time, start with 10-15 minutes a day. Yeah, it will take awhile to get through the book, but if that’s more than you’re reading now, it’s an improvement.
- Read anthologies. Short stories don’t feel like as big of a commitment as an entire novel. So if you find a book of short stories (in any genre), it can feel more manageable, but be just as enjoyable.
If you can’t find anything you want to read…
- Use the library. I’ve found so many books I didn’t know about just browsing the shelves there. Most libraries have interesting displays of new books, and you can always ask a librarian for a recommendation.
- Check Amazon. If there’s a book you liked, if you search for it, Amazon will suggest other books like it. It’s a great place to start.
- Google it. Not too long ago, I Googled “Best YA horror books.” I ended up with tons of results, and after reading several book lists, I found books that showed up on more than one list. After reading several of them, I have to agree that the lists were spot-on.
- Re-read something you liked. I get in these moods where I can’t find anything I want to read, so I go back to an old favorite I love. It’s okay to read kids’ books. YA is growing in popularity among adults, but plenty of us read middle grade from time to time too. The only criteria for reading a book is that you enjoy it.
- Check out Goodreads. There are lists for every type of book you can imagine (and some you can’t). If you know you like a certain type of book, you can see what’s well-rated, read reviews, follow people who might like the same books you do.
- Re-visit favorite authors. If you’ve liked an author in the past, check out what they’re writing now. Sometimes something new (or old) will pique your interest.
Any other suggestions for reading more or finding something great to read?