The average American spends five and a half hours every day watching TV. While television can be entertaining, it does little for your brain or for your body. You actually burn more calories reading a book than you do watching TV. Reading is an active mental process: you think more, use your imagination, and you increase your knowledge.
I've never actually walked through a dusty village in Mali. I wasn't born into life of a Plains Indian in the 1800s. And, I've never trudged along the rainy, dark streets of Paris with a hungry belly and nothing in my pocket except a notebook and a blunt pencil to write my next story. However, I've experienced all these things through the magic and mystery of books.
When you read a magazine, you jump from pictures to captions to story, page after page. When you read a website, you're constantly distracted by moving ads and links urging you on to the next site or story. While any reading is beneficial, books help you develop the ability to focus and concentrate because there is no distraction – there is only the story. Furthermore, reading helps improve your memory.
The world's brightest, most creative minds have written millions of books, sharing their wisdom, all of which are just waiting for you to pick up and discover. The more you read, the more you have to talk about with colleagues, friends, dates, your spouse or partner, and complete strangers. Reading gives you a rich store of knowledge, ideas, and experiences that you can then share with others.
I taught myself how to start a business by reading books. I've learned about yoga, Buddhism, American history, mythology, and many other fascinating subjects through reading. Reading is a very cheap way to learn new skills and concepts. Instead of attending a class and paying overpriced tuition, or instead of wishing you knew how to build a blog or program software, teach yourself through books. Reading empowers you to take responsibility for your education, no matter how young or old you are.
I canceled cable TV years ago, and I have to say I haven't missed it a bit. Watching less TV is a very easy way to open up time to read more. I often use the evening to read, and it's my favorite part of the day. If I still had cable, I might otherwise be flipping through channel after channel, looking for something to watch.
According to a Pew Research study, and published in NBC News, 30% of study respondents who own a tablet or e-reader say they spend more time reading than they used to. They also read more books: The average tablet owner reads 24 books per year, compared to other readers, who read an average of 15 books per year.
Do you know how many times I've picked up "War and Peace" and tried to read it? At least a dozen. It's one of those books I feel like I should read, but I've never been able to get into the story no matter how hard I've tried.
If you have a really busy schedule, you're probably going to have to set aside time to read. And this means actually putting it into your schedule, or picking a specific time of day. Even if it's only 10 or 15 minutes, it will still be a good way to develop the habit, help you relax, and allow you to momentarily forget about the stresses of everyday life in a healthy way.
Reading with your kids is a wonderful way to teach them the love of reading. But reading with others, such as with friends or as part of a book club, can also be a rewarding and motivating way to read more.