Why I Decided to Read a Book Every Two Weeks
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"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Ray Bradbury
I’m taking on a personal self-improvement project: read a book every two weeks.
One of my greatest struggles has always been with personal follow through (keeping a journal, maintaining a strict diet, etc.). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said I was going to do something and then simply not done it, for whatever reason. Yes, it’s different in my professional life - typically, when commitments and promises concern other people, I have no issue getting things done. Little personal projects and goals are my greatest source of struggle. Instead of simply committing, I come up with a host of excuses for why I failed, none of which hold any true merit. It’s probably time to try and change that.
I originally came up with the (not so original) idea to read a book a week in early June. But, given my time constraints and need to focus for what feels like 25 hours a day on work, I've decided to take a more practical approach and commit instead to one book every two weeks. It’s less pressure and more achievable because I'm probably already doing this anyway. Baby steps. A book per week will come soon enough.
Wondering why I need to put a label on my leisure reading? Here's why:
America has a reading problem. We are far too attached to screens. We're constantly glued to our phones, laptops and tablets and we spend obscene amounts of time tuned into movies and shows (and not enough time snuggling up to a good book).
According to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 the average American spent an average of 19 minutes of their leisure time reading per day and over 153 minutes watching television.
Only 19 minutes. Yikes.
But we're buuuussssyyyy, Eden.
Mmmm, nice try. Even on weekends and holidays (prime reading time) people between the ages of 20 to 24 only read about 7 minutes per day and spend about 148 minutes with their faces glued to a black tube.
If you’re reading this and thinking something like, “Phew, I’m not in my 20s, I’m in the clear…” – you’re wrong.
While it is true that the time spent reading each day increases with age, no matter what age, people are still watching way more TV than they are reading. Check out these stats:
Chart 1: Minutes Per Day Spent Reading/Watching TV (2015)
To view the entire report, click here.
Reading per day
Television per day
35 - 44
45 - 54
55 - 64
Should you feel guilty? Are you the Average American?
For me, and probably for most people, the answer is not black and white. My reading tends to ebb and flow. I go through weeks or months at a time when I devour every book in site and then there’s a lull for a while. It’s during those lulls, which are more frequent than I’m willing to admit, that I become the average.
But I do feel guilty during those lulls. How could I not when reading has such incredible benefits?
According to a study published in the Plos One Journal, fiction lovers might actually be more empathetic, more introspective, and more intellectually inspired through your reading. Reading can also be a great "medicine" for those suffering from sleeplessness and stress, according to the Telegraph, who reported that reading helps you relax and reduce stress quicker than talking a calming walk or sipping a soothing cup of tea. And, for those who are literally looking to change the way they think, reading can "open your mind" to greater creativity and more sophisticated thinking.
So, why aren't we screening less and reading more?
Who knows? As awesome as the newest episode of Games of Thrones might be (I'm not a GOT fan hence the "might") I can't imagine that it beats reading a good book.
Reading one book every two weeks is my way to start balancing out screening time with some good old-fashioned page turning. I’m hoping that it will catch on, too, because we could all benefit from a little more reading and a little less screening.
Fresh out of excuses and ready to shake things up a bit, I'm challenging anyone reading this to read with me. Maybe your project isn’t a book every two weeks - maybe it’s a book a month. Whatever it is, challenge yourself and pick up a damn book!
"Like", share or comment on this post if you're with me. Totally cool if you're not, but if you are - well, that's even cooler.
P.S. Some of my recent reads.
A bit of history I knew nothing about. It was a fascinating and gripping read.
Read this in one day. It was chilling, but necessary. Highly recommend.
If you're a woman in your 20s, this will be sure to send some chills down your spine. Incredible memoir detailing a young journalist's "lost month". Well researched, great read.
A true story about a white, plantation girl and a child slave, both in pursuit of freedom during a very dark time in American history.
How much do you ever really know a person? This story follows a woman as she journeys to uncover the truth about her husband's life and death.
If you click these links and make an Amazon Purchase, I'll receive a small commission. So in a few years I might have enough cash to buy myself a nice cold one. Woot!
(But really, I did read these books and they're awesome.)