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You Probably Don’t Read Enough. Here’s Why You Should

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Written by: Melissa Bellerjeau

Growing up, we all read books. Many of the ones we read as children are still ingrained in our minds today. As a child, I loved picture books like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. In high school, “In Cold Blood”, “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Antigone” stuck out for me.

In my first semester as an undergrad, I took two courses that were very literature-heavy which led me to reading ten books that fall. Maybe you can relate to these school aged experiences.

But it’s probably been a long time since you read that much. According to the Pew Research Center, the mean number of books the average American reads in a year is 12, which comes out to one book a month. This sounds great.

But those numbers are skewed by heavy readers like Bill Gates, who reads 50 books a year. The median number of books that the average American reads is just four books, and 24 percent of Americans do not read a single book all year.

There’s a host of reasons why making reading a part of your regular life is one of the best things you can do if you want to be successful as a business owner, executive, or professional that extend far beyond simply learning new information.

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Cognitive health

Reading does for your brain what exercise does for the body. The best way to keep your brain performing at its best is to regularly challenge it to learn new things. The Alzheimer’s Society lists reading as a preventive measure to fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Creativity

Researchers at the University of Toronto found that study participants who were tasked with reading fiction were able to think in a more open-minded and creative way.

Stress relief

Researchers at the University of Sussex found that reading for a short period of time results in major stress relief. They saw reading reduce stress levels by 68 percent. It was proven more effective than listening to music, drinking tea, or taking a walk.

Empathy

A study published by the American Psychological Association linked reading to better social habits. People who read fiction imagined the scenes in books playing out in their heads. These imaginations led to an increase in participants’ show of empathy and positive social behavior. These qualities are essential in a good leader, regardless of industry.

Success

If you are an avid reader, you’re in good company. Recent presidents Barack ObamaGeorge W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were huge bibliophiles. The average CEO reportedly reads about one book a week.

Reading is both a personal investment and a professional investment. You get back as much as you put in to it. The more you read, the more you’ll reap the rewards of reading. It will benefit your personal health, your relationships with others, and your ability to be successful in the workplace.

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