When I hear reading statistics about just how few books Americans are reading every year, it makes my heart hurt. According to a 2013 Pew report (“A Snapshot of Reading in America”), 76% of American adults read at least one book per year, which is actually more than I would’ve guessed. (I know too many non-readers! Hey, Dad! Read a book sometime this century!) Where it starts to make me sad is finding out that the average number of books read for everyone 18+ is twelve.
T-W-E-L-V-E. That’s one per month and includes print, digital, and audio. If you’re a fellow data-nerd, take a peek at the report to see the numbers broken down by sex, race, age, education, income, and community.
If you’re reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that lack of literacy isn’t holding you back in life. But, it is a problem for some Americans in ways that matter to us all, like this one: Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system & more than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate. (!?!!?!!) For similar stats, check out DoSomething.org’s 11 Facts About Literacy in America.
Even if you’re not a kid about to grow up with a reading problem and spend your life struggling to stay afloat, there’s a good chance your life could be much improved if it included a whole lot more reading and books.
Five Simple Ways to Read More Often
- Schedule it! Don’t just wait around for a magical, silent, perfect moment to crack open a book. Make it a part of your life and routine. That could mean going to lounge in bed a bit earlier than normal, finding a cozy spot during your lunch break, or keeping a book in your car for those times you end up waiting around somewhere and you’d normally pass the minutes playing on your phone.
- Combine it with another routine activity! If you spend time each day exercising or commuting to work for a while, read while you do it! If your commute involves you driving yourself, listen to an audiobook. Those count too and some books are even better that way. (I highly recommend Mindy Kaling’s memoir in audio! And in every other format.)
- Don’t hesitate to drop a dud! If you’ve read the first 50 pages of a book and it’s really not hooking you yet, switch books! It may be the wrong time for that particular book and you can try again another time, or maybe it’s just plain bad and you shouldn’t bother. It happens. Don’t let it ruin your reading flow.
- Switch it up! Don’t feel like you have to read one book at a time. You might be someone who likes to have a novel and a non-fiction one going at the same time. Or multiple novels. Whatever! I avoid non-fiction at night, but love it earlier in the day. In bed, I’m all novels.
- Challenge yourself! Set a reading goal! You can pick a number of books to read in 2015. (If you plan to track your books on Goodreads, let them track your progress with their 2016 Reading Challenge.) Or you can challenge yourself to check items off of a list of types of books to read (like this one I made with 25 ideas, including a banned book, and an author’s first book.).
That’s it! Start reading. 😀