reading a bookFor years we’ve  heard that reading is good for us, yet our county’s reading habits seem to be on a slow, steady decline. There could be many reasons, like more recreational television and games, YouTube and the internet that absorb our free time, but this is crazy.

We live in a time of trends to do everything we can to live healthy lifestyles like:

  • eat the right foods
  • minimize our footprint on the earth
  • save animals and endangered species

We shouldn’t forget one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, to optimize our  – BRAIN HEALTH

Here is a cold, ugly fact:

In October 2015 reported results from a Pew Research survey that revealed  27% of the population hadn’t read a book in the past year.

<gulp> If that’s not a horror story, then I’ve never read one.

The National Endowment for the Arts have been tracking our reading habits (as well as other considerations regarding the arts), and they created a research report titled:

Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America

The results of the survey were accumulated for conclusions, see them for yourself by checking out:

  Section 4. Trends in Literature Participation, 1982 – 2002 on Page 21

 . . . there has been a substantial decrease in the percentage of people reading literature, from 57 percent in 1982 to 47 percent in 2002, a decline of 10 percentage points.
 i found you!They have been tracking our recreational reading habits for years, and although our rate of college graduates has increased, the number of literary books we read for pleasure have decreased, while our television viewing is booming.

Outlander SeriesDon’t get me wrong; there is a place in out lives for media. I like viewing television shows like the Outlander series (but I read the books first) and I wouldn’t suggest that we shouldn’t be looking forward to season three of Twin Peaks which is happening again (read Mark Frost’s book first, you’ll thank me later).IMG_5279

Along with these other sources of entertainment if we add the fact that there are many more books published today, well, you can see an author’s predicament.

It’s getting harder and more competitive to find willing readers.


Christopher Ingraham wrote a great article for the Washington Post “The long Steady Decline of Literary Reading”  last September 7th that noted more current numbers regarding our reading habits. (I borrowed the diagram used)

This trend is disturbing. We know that people who read exercise their brain in the areas where we develop empathy, an ability the world could use a little more of right now. So if our reading habits diminish will our ability to empathize as well?
This fact about reading and how it is exercising our empathetic muscles has been documented in many tests, as well as other health benefits from reading. Here is another article about the benefits posted last August via the online magazine Trends In Cognitive Sciences

In long-term associations and shorter-term experiments, engagement in fiction, especially literary fiction, has been found to prompt improvements in empathy and theory-of-mind.

Trends In Cognitive Sciences 

cognitivePeople exercise their brain while reading in the areas where we develop empathy. Reading increases cognitive brain ability.

Read more about it in an article from Psychology Today written January 2014 by Christopher Bergland here:  Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function via

“At a minimum, we can say that reading stories—especially those with strong narrative arcs—re-configures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us. This may have profound implications for children and the role of reading in shaping their brains.” —Dr Berns

Conclusion: Reading Improves Embodied Cognition and Theory of Mind

The Huffington Post had a nice article written by Laura Schocker in October 2013  Six Science-backed Reasons To Go Read A Book Right Now  She cited increased empathy as a benefit, too. She also added: books chill you out, sharpen your brain, keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay, promotes better sleep habits, and lessens our bouts of depression.

What’s My Number One Reason To Read—I’m Curious

Books offer us new worlds to explore. Please keep watching great shows, too. Movies and video games offer great entertainment, and I can’t wait to experience VR (virtual reality).

But I implore you to spread the word that we all need to read as well—For our health

Only with a book can we totally immerse ourselves into a different world with our unique perspective and convey the written words in our own mind, using our own creativity to interpret the story. That’s the beauty of reading.

We can all read the same book, but we all come away with a different VISION. I rest my case.

EZIndiebutton2Keep Reading – Keep Writing!

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