When was the last time you checked Facebook or Twitter? How many hours did you spend watching TV this week?
God, I sound old.
But the data tells a story. The percentage of American adults who read literature has fallen to at least a three-decade low last year, according to a new report published by the National Endowment for the Arts. Just 43.1% of Americans read a novel, short story, poetry or play in 2015. Another Pew Research Center survey found that 72% of American adults have read a book (in any format) within the last year, down from 76% in 2013 and from 79% in 2011, the first year the survey was conducted.
There are things we get from books that we can’t get from short snippets in electronic media – rich descriptions, well-considered arguments that exceed 44 characters and an appreciation for history that can be instructive. Reading demands that we sit still, remain focused and quietly concentrate hard enough to weave the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters into a comprehensive narrative. Reading extends our understanding of new ideas, perspectives and practices that breed success.
As you contemplate your New Year’s resolutions, make a plan to read more. Maybe one book per month?
Get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning and read before you ever get out of bed. Listen to an audiobook while you drive to work or workout. Skip The Bachelor or your next Netflix binge and read for an hour each evening.
It’s about spreading ideas – something that books, speeches and public dialogue help foster.
So, what’s next on your reading list?
At this moment, I’m reading Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss, a compilation of tools, tactics, and daily habits straight from the world’s top performers. In his latest book, Ferriss queries iconic entrepreneurs, elite athletes, artists and billionaire investors about their morning routines, best purchases of $100 or less and strategies for bouncing back after failure. Their responses can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and transform your life. Almost all of the leaders included in Tribe of Mentors read voraciously and mention lifelong learning as one of their keys to success.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury