The Importance Of Reading Books

The NYTimes published an article by op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow about the importance of reading.

In his article, Blow cited a few startling statistics:
“The Pew Research Center reported last week that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978. The details of the Pew report are quite interesting and somewhat counterintuitive. Among American adults, women were more likely to have read at least one book in the last 12 months than men. Blacks were more likely to have read a book than whites or Hispanics. People aged 18-29 were more likely to have read a book than those in any other age group. And there was little difference in readership among urban, suburban and rural population."

Blow goes on to mention the oft-cited reasons for the lack of reading -- social media.

"I understand that we are now inundated with information, and people’s reading habits have become fragmented to some degree by bite-size nuggets of text messages and social media, and that takes up much of the time that could otherwise be devoted to long-form reading. I get it. And I don’t take a troglodytic view of social media. I participate and enjoy it.

But reading texts is not the same as reading a text.

There is no intellectual equivalent to allowing oneself the time and space to get lost in another person’s mind, because in so doing we find ourselves."

Like Blow, I understand that we are getting our information in other ways, but I do agree that there is no replacement for reading a text. I recently started to be more mindful of my smartphone usage (especially after this story yesterday). One of my resolutions this year is to read at least one book per month. I am on track after reading Malcolm Gladwell's David & Goliath, and I just started The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It's a nice change of pace to read longer texts and become engaged in the content. It feels more satisfying than constantly reading short snippets of fleeting information.


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