In 2016, a Pew Research Center survey found that 26 percent of American adults had not read a single book in the previous year.
The survey results were broken down further by the research center, stating that men were less likely to have read a book than women and that people in lower income households were less likely to read than those with higher incomes.
Younger adults were more likely to have read than older adults, with 23 percent of respondents in the 18-49 age range not having read a book in the previous 12 months, while 29 percent of those over 50 did not read a book in 2015.
According to a study published in Neurology in 2013, reading reduces the amount of cognitive decline in dementia patients.
Research out of the University of California, Berkeley has shown that children’s books expose young people to 50 percent more words than cable television, which ultimately can lead to higher test scores.
Additionally, reading books on paper has been shown to reduce stress by as much as 68 percent, according to a study out of Sussex University.
With all of these benefits, why aren’t adults spending more time reading?
Perhaps it is our so-called busy lives that prevent us from picking up more books, or maybe it’s that we prefer to fill our schedules to the point that we simply cannot fit in time for leisure. In some twisted way, being overly busy seems to bring us pleasure.
The power of a good story is timeless. Since the beginning of recorded history, stories have been the guiding light behind every society and culture. From creation stories to tales of love and loss, from wartime epics to peaceful utopias, everything we have ever been told has been in the form of story.
At some point in each person’s life, there will be a story that impacts them forever. But if we’ve stopped reaching out for new stories and new perspectives, then how will we ever find those stories?
The magical thing about being an adult is that nobody can tell you what to read anymore (except for your professors, but we’ll forget about them for now).
You get to choose the stories you dive into. You get to choose where you want to participate.
So maybe dystopian fantasy isn’t your thing, but maybe historical fiction is. Maybe romance makes your skin crawl, but then again, there’s always Stephen King.
Nobody’s telling you what story you have to participate in, but please, for your sake and the rest of the world’s, please, pick up a book this year.
You never know what new world you may discover, what new dream you may uncover or what new peace you may find behind the pages of a good book.