Reading Makes People Feel Happier and Smarter, According to New Poll

m-imagephotography/iStock via Getty Images
m-imagephotography/iStock via Getty Images

Reading subscription service Scribd wants Americans to read more, and they've recently discovered that a vast majority of Americans would like to see that happen, too.

In late May, the company tasked The Harris Poll with conducting a survey on America's reading habits. They asked more than 2000 adults a variety of questions, such as: Does reading make you feel smarter? Does it enhance your well-being? How does reading compare to scrolling through social media? Among some of the poll's most interesting takeaways:

  • The average person has four hours and 26 minutes of free time each week, but 81 percent of Americans do not read as much as they would like to. Instead of reading, Americans typically use that time to stream movies and/or TV shows (86 percent of people said they do this for a minimum of 15 minutes a day), perform chores (84 percent), and/or scroll through social media (74 percent).
  • Of the individuals polled, 52 percent said they read for at least 15 minutes a day, but only 22 percent reported reading an hour or more a day; 35 percent said they wish they were reading more.
  • It’s a fact that reading even just 15 pages a day comes with a host of benefits, including a more substantial knowledge base and a better vocabulary. When asked how they felt after reading, 55 percent of respondents said they felt more relaxed, 33 percent felt happier, and 32 percent felt smarter. In fact, 75 percent of those polled believe that people who read regularly are smarter than those who do not.
  • Reading makes people feel more accomplished, too: 69 percent said they felt more accomplished after reading versus only 45 percent who felt that way after scrolling through social media.
  • 55 percent of respondents said they only need to read for 15 minutes to feel like they've accomplished something. (Fun fact: People who read books for 30 minutes every day may live an average of 23 months longer than non-readers according to a 2016 study.)
  • Social media can be a time sucker, but according to the poll, it might also be draining our intelligence. 32 percent of respondents said they felt smarter after reading while only 7 percent felt smarter after “reading” social media. 5 percent of people said reading was a waste of their time whereas a whopping 35 percent of people considered spending time on social media a waste of time.

Despite wanting to read more, people aren’t doing it enough: 39 percent of people said they don’t read because they don’t have enough time, while by 22 percent that said that "it’s easier to do other things"—like watching Netflix. For that latter group, Scribd recommends listening to audiobooks, which is better than not reading at all.

Lost Sketches From The Little Prince Have Been Discovered in Switzerland

Oleksandr Samolyk, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Oleksandr Samolyk, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, published in 1943, has long been regarded as one of the most compelling books of the 20th century. Drawing upon Saint-Exupéry's own experiences in aviation, the book tells the tale of a pilot who crashes in the Sahara and befriends a little boy who claims to have come from outer space. The book is accompanied by a number of illustrations by Saint-Exupéry. Now, Smithsonian reports that some of the original preparatory sketches have surfaced.

According to France24.com, the sketches—of the titular Little Prince chatting with a fox, a boa constrictor devouring an elephant, and a character called the Tippler—were purchased at auction in 1986 by an art collector named Bruno Stefanini, who tucked them away in a folder. When Stefanini passed away in December 2018, the artwork—drawn on airmail paper—was uncovered by workers at his non-profit Foundation for Art, Culture, and History in Winterthur, Switzerland.

Aviator and 'The Little Prince' author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is photographed inside of an airplane cockpit in 1935
Aviator and The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in 1935.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The organization intends to share its findings with the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, which currently houses the original book manuscript (including drafts of the book's most famous phrase, "What is essential is invisible to the eye") and 35 other sketches.

The Stefanini collection also includes a particularly personal piece of material. One of the sketches includes a love letter made out to Saint-Exupéry's wife while the pilot was in New York in 1942 following Germany’s invasion of France. It was there he wrote The Little Prince, which was published the following year. In 1944, Saint-Exupéry was shot down by a German pilot over the Mediterranean.

[h/t Smithsonian]

George R.R. Martin Doesn't Think Game of Thrones Was 'Very Good' For His Writing Process

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

No one seems to have escaped the fan fury over the finals season of Game of Thrones. While likely no one got it quite as bad as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, even author George R.R. Martin—who wrote A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the show is based, faced backlash surrounding the HBO hit. The volatile reaction from fans has apparently taken a toll on both Martin's writing and personal life.

In an interview with The Guardian, the acclaimed author said he's sticking with his original plan for the last two books, explaining that the show will not impact them. “You can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself,” he stated.

He went on to explain how even his personal life has taken a negative turn because of the show. “I can’t go into a bookstore any more, and that used to be my favorite thing to do in the world,” Martin said. “To go in and wander from stack to stack, take down some books, read a little, leave with a big stack of things I’d never heard of when I came in. Now when I go to a bookstore, I get recognized within 10 minutes and there’s a crowd around me. So you gain a lot but you also lose things.”

While fans of the book series are fully aware of the author's struggle to finish the final two installments, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, Martin admitted that part of the delay has been a result of the HBO series, and fans' reaction to it.

“I don’t think [the series] was very good for me,” Martin said. “The very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day … I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.'"

Still, Martin has sworn that the books will get finished ... he just won't promise when.

[h/t The Guardian]

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