The importance of reading is irrefutable. From reducing stress, to building character and opening up a whole world of knowledge, leafing through a good book is one of the greatest pleasures known to man. There’s a pretty big number of interesting facts about reading and we skimmed through most of them to compile this amazing list for you.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachersCharles W. Elliot
We couldn’t agree more.
The sad part is that according to a UNESCO report from 2006 more than 132 million young people are and will remain for the rest of their lives unable to read. It’s a pretty tragic statistic, because as you will see from the list of reading facts below, the benefits of reading are immense.
1. Reading reduces stress
We’ve all felt that ourselves. Reading a good book after a long and stressful day works wonders on our state of mind. Studies have actually shown that leafing through a book can be up to 600% more efficient in relieving stress than playing a video game and 300% more efficient than going for a walk. Now that’s a fun fact about reading.
According to a 2009 study conducted by the University of Sussex, only 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. It is quicker and works better than many other stress lowering methods like listening to music or drinking a cup of tea.
2. Reading has many health benefits
On top of relieving stress, reading has many other benefits for your mental and physical health. Here are the most important ones:
- Your brain is like a muscle. Joseph Addison said that “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”, and he couldn’t have said it better. Reading brings existing neural pathways to life and keeps your brain elastic and active.
- Reading a book has been found to reduce blood pressure and lower the heart rate. By helping your mind relax, it helps your body relax as well.
- It has been shown that reading books and engaging in mentally challenging activities, like playing puzzle games, helps slow down the cognitive decline in old age. That results in lower chances of Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related neurodegenerative diseases for people who read regularly. A study from the University of California shows that people with a high literacy level are 4 to 5 times less likely to suffer mental declines with old age.
- Reading can help alleviate depression. Especially reading fiction, since it can help people temporarily escape their own world and immerse themselves in the adventures of the characters they read about.
- We all know how important sleep is for our health. Reading before going to bed has been shown to help people fall asleep easier and quicker. Sleep readiness is something many of us struggle with, especially those of us who spend a lot of time looking at our phones before going to bed. Leafing through a book before going to bed instead of looking at our phones can make a huge difference.
3. Reading is a lot easier than you think
We all know that reading is important, but many people still see it as a chore rather than a pleasant activity. The good news is that even if you’re one of those people who see reading as a chore, you can still achieve a lot, with very little effort.
By reading just 20 minutes per day, you will actually end up reading 1.8 Million words in one year. With an average of 500 words per page, that means you would read 3,600 pages per year. That’s 12 books with 300 pages each. If you make reading a habit, it will definitely pay off in the long run, with minimal effort.
On top of this, did you know that nowadays you can actually rely on technology to help you read more?
4. Your phone and your books are no longer enemies
In the past decades, the time people have been spending reading has decreased considerably and is in a constant decline.
The U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics released a survey in 2020 which states that as of 2019, the average time spent reading for Americans aged 15-44 is of 10 minutes or less per day.
On the other hand, another statistic says that Americans spent almost 3 hours per day using their phones in 2019.
Even though these statistics are worrying, some good news may be coming our way. “Reading more” has been a common New Year’s resolution and a goal for many people, tech companies have come into play.
Several mobile apps have been developed in recent years with the sole purpose of helping you achieve your goals of reading more and faster.
Basmo, for example, is a pretty awesome tool, which can give your reading experience an extra boost.
Give Your Reading Experience
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Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time.
5. Reading makes you an overall better person
One of the most interesting facts about reading books is how much it can actually change a person. Reading is not only a great hobby, it is an amazing self-development tool.
Making a habit out of leafing through a book every now and then can actually make you a much better person. Here’s why:
By reading more, you become smarter.
It’s a fact. A study conducted by the University of Edinburgh and King’s College London definitely concluded that there is a direct link between reading ability and IQ.
The researchers did 5 separate tests on almost 1900 pairs of twins between the ages of 7 and 16 and they found the twin with a higher reading ability having better verbal and nonverbal cognitive abilities.
Reading makes you a happier person.
Since a good book can work wonders on alleviating stress and depression, it’s pretty obvious why people who read more are more self-confident and happy.
By surveying more than 4,000 adults, the University of Liverpool concluded that readers are happier, less stressed, cope better with challenges and have more close friends than non- readers. Isn’t that a fun fact about reading? (pun by all means intended)
People who read, volunteer and donate more
Studies have shown that there is a link between reading and charity. Among the people who volunteer regularly, 42% are self-identified regular readers.
Similarly, 82% of the people who usually donate either money or goods of any kind, are readers as well.
While there’s unlikely to be a direct causality link between reading and volunteering or donating, the numbers should tell you something nevertheless. An educated person who reads constantly has a better understanding for the needs of those around them, greater empathy and a better sense of giving back to the community.
6. People who read more, live longer
Pretty good motivation if you ask me. A study from Yale University concluded, after studying over 3500 people over the age of 50, that participants who read at least 30 minutes per day, lived on average 23 months longer than non-readers. 30 minutes of reading per day for living almost 2 years longer? That sounds like a great deal.
Another interesting fact about reading we got from this survey was that there’s actually a difference even between those who read newspapers and magazines and those who read fiction books. Book readers lived longer than those who preferred newspapers and magazines too.
Researchers believe it’s the fact that reading books leads to a different level of cognitive engagement by learning new words, understanding plot points and twists that resulted in this difference. Basically, re-building the fictional universe we read about in a book, helps our brain remain healthy.
7. Encouraging children to read may be the key to a better future
There are a lot of interesting facts about reading books especially when it comes to kids. Since they are the generation we rely on for a better future, it’s understandable that we are putting a lot of focus on them and ways to create amazing human beings out of them.
Tens, or maybe even hundreds of studies have been conducted to see the influence reading has on a developing mind. Here’s a couple of surprising facts about reading at a young age.
- Children who have a library with at least 20 books of their own have been found to achieve up to 3 more years of schooling than kids who don’t have reading material at home.
- Similarly, a link has been found between classroom libraries and reading. Children who study in classrooms with libraries end up reading 50% more than those who study in classrooms without libraries.
- Children can learn between 4,000 and 12,000 new words through book reading in a single year. Encouraging kids to read more can make a huge difference for them as adults.
- Reading 1 million words per year (we did the math, that means around 3,000 words per day) will get a child straight to the top 2% on standardized reading tests.
- Scientists in America have shown that children who have learned to read before the age of 8 are less likely to end up in prison later in life, and also have lower chances of starting to use drugs. Moreover, scientists have argued that children who have basic literacy skills before starting school are 3 to 4 times less likely to drop out of school.
- Students who don’t manage to learn how to read by 3rd grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high-school.
- Toddlers who are being read to have been shown to be almost one year ahead in mental development compared to children of the same age who haven’t. Something to keep in mind next time you’re deciding on an activity for you and your child.
- Moreover, a 2019 study shows that children who are read to in the 5 years leading up to kindergarten are being exposed to over 1 million more words than children who are not.
- Another fun fact about reading to children is that if you would read 1 children’s book per day to your toddler, he or she would have “read” 1825 books by the age of 5.
8. Top 3 most printed and sold books
Since reading is so important and such an amazingly useful activity and learning tool, it may be interesting to find out which 3 books were the most popular as of 2021.
3. With 500 million copies sold, and a little surprisingly, on third place in this list comes the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling’s magic writing and the incredible story she managed to come up with have obviously managed to touch the hearts of many avid readers out there.
2. Another big surprise comes for the second position. “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung” was sold in 900 million copies worldwide. Also known as the “Little Red Book”, this compilation of statements from the former Chairman of the Chinese Communist, was first published in 1964. 116 pages of pure Chinese communist wisdom made our list. Amazing!
1. And here it is. The most popular book of all time is … The Bible! Sold in more than 6 Billion copies, the Holy Bible is by far the most printed, sold and read book of all time. It has been translated in over 300 languages and is the first building block for the most popular religion in the world.
9. The longest book ever written
A la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust holds the world record for the longest book ever written. With 9,609,000 characters, 1.5 million words and over 4,000 pages, the novel written in 1912 is actually the story of its author’s own life. It would take an average-speed reader over 83 hours of intense reading to finish perusing the whole novel.
10. First book ever written
The only natural interesting fact about reading that could follow is where it all began. As far as historians can tell, the first book ever written was the Epic of Gilgamesh. An epic poem dating back thousands of years, it was written in ancient Mesopotamia around the year 2100 BCE.
It consists of twelve clay tablets and was discovered in the ruins of the Ashurbanipal library in 1853. It tells the story of the hero king of Uruk and is believed by many to have been an inspiration for some of Homer’s writings.
While this book dates back thousands of years, where things really changed for books as we know them was the year 1454. That is when a brilliant German man called Johannes Gutenberg managed to build the world’s first printing press. Almost overnight, everything changed in terms of book printing and this was the first step towards us having access to millions of titles printed ever since.
11. Geniuses are fast readers
While no direct link of causality has been found between the speed of reading and a high IQ, it can’t be a coincidence that abnormally intelligent people also have well above the average reading speeds.
A regular person can read between 200 and 300 words per minute. Depending on practice and interest in the subject, that number can go up to 500 words per minute (without sacrificing comprehension).
Well, what you probably didn’t know is that some remarkable people also had remarkable reading speeds. Napoleon for example was able to read at the absolutely astonishing rate of 2000 words per minute. Stories about Honore de Balzac said that he was able to finish a small novel in under half an hour.
It can’t be a coincidence that some of the greatest minds in history were also speed-readers, can it?
12. Speed reading world record
The speed reading world record dates back from 1990. Howard Berg has been recognized by the Guinness World Record Book as the fastest reader in the world, a title he still holds to this day.
While it may seem impossible to most of us, his record was of 25,000 words read per minute. Many have questioned the claim, as there was no real experiment done to check if this was actually true.
And on top of the fact that at this speed, comprehension would probably be close to zero, many have questioned the claims based on more solid facts. How do you read and turn the pages that fast without tearing them up?
Even though it is unlikely that we will ever find out the whole truth, it’s important to remember that speed reading is a powerful tool and can help us tremendously in saving time, as long as we don’t sacrifice comprehension for speed.
13. While reading, our eyes can move in different directions
It sounds like a health condition, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not strabismus. It’s a completely normal thing in healthy adults with 20-20 vision.
While reading, our eyes usually target different letters at once. Actually, that happens almost 50% of the time we spend reading. It’s a mechanism which helps us read and understand faster, which starts developing as soon as we start learning to read.
Our bodies are truly amazing and the way they adapt to our needs tells the story of thousands of years of evolution. Even if it’s through such small curiosities.
So, here it is. That’s our list of the most interesting facts about reading. Feel free to test some of them yourselves using Basmo, the best app for avid readers. We hope we managed to satisfy your curiosity in regards to the weirdest, most interesting and maybe fun facts about reading and you will remember some of them the next time you’re curled up under a blanket with a good book.
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