If I were stranded on a desert island for a year, I could do without a lot of things. Sure, I’d miss ice
cream, movies, my weekly tennis game and my Blackberry – a lot – but I’d get by. But if, on the other hand, someone said I couldn’t read a single book for the whole year, I’d start making my own sailboat.
Which is why I was bummed to read that according to a new AP-Ipsos poll, one in every four Americans did not finish a single book from cover to cover last year. I could certainly understand if the reason so many people aren’t reading is because they’re working 12-hour days, taking care of families and falling into bed at night, only to start all over again the next day. I’d still argue that one of the best ways to relax and escape is with a good book, but I’d get it.
Unfortunately, the reasons are less noble and more predictable. Increasingly according to another, similar study, we’d rather spend our time watching TV, playing video games or online. It’s probably the same quest for instant gratification that makes us prefer fast food to a well-cooked meal that takes time to prepare. Like fast food, these other forms of entertainment good in the moment but ultimately less satisfying and probably not so good for you in the long run.
During the most stressful times in my life, books have helped me lose track of time, place and worries.
And as they did, I also learned a lot of history, philosophy and culture. They also helped me to learn how to think and how to write. But mostly, they just entertained me.
I don’t know how to encourage people to read more books, but I can sure recommend a few good ones, beginning with the business books to the right here. If you want some suggestions for lighter reading, try "Everyman" by Phillip Roth, "1776" by David McCullough, and "Time and again" by Jack Finny (great, great book about time travel and the NYC of 1888).