What’s it Like Reading 5 Books a Month?
It’s not going to change your life overnight, but you might just be a little more entertained and relaxed.
After I graduated with my BA in Literature, I committed a literary travesty that lasted for several years. I barely read anything. Life was keeping me busy, but still, I’m always looking for different ways to read more. It’s completely possible to have a busy life and still read a lot, but I just wasn’t allocating my time that way.
Fortunately, I ended my literary misstep and resumed reading feverishly over the last two years. I didn’t count how many books I read last year, but it was between 60 and 70. It’s not a groundbreaking amount, but after only reading one or two in those first few post-grad years, it was still a good jump.
Does reading a lot actually change your life?
It's all the buzz in the personal development community. You can look around and you'll see dozens and dozens of articles about how this CEO's morning routine could revolutionize your life.
I consider myself to be a pretty avid reader, but I’ve got to be honest. I enjoy reading a lot, but turning back into a bookworm hasn’t revolutionized my life. It makes my ordinary days more fun, that’s a definite, but you shouldn’t expect reading to make a huge overnight change in your life.
Regardless, there are some big benefits of reading.
Is reading worth your time when life is so busy? Absolutely.
Reading can make any commute more bearable, whether you grab a paperback on mass transit or you listen to an audiobook during your long drive. I still remember when I set a personal record and read five books in a single month back in June 2019. It was fun, but guess what? I was still the same person I was in May.
However, I did enjoy myself a lot more and I learned quite a few things along the way. Since then, I usually read five or six books a month. I usually will do mostly fiction for entertainment, but I aim to read at least one educational book per month as well.
You’ll feel more entertained.
Reading for the simple enjoyment of a story is a simple pleasure. It’s one you deserve to award yourself with. You don’t need to only read biographies, scientific books, or history books. You can simply kick back with some good fiction in the genre of your choice.
It’s a fun way to add a little more media to your typical day, especially if you don’t feel like you’re getting enough. Switching between paperbacks, audiobooks, and ebooks really makes it easy for you to read a lot; it’s fantastic for keeping yourself amused when you’re on the go.
Audiobooks are one of the simplest ways to read more books. I walk about four miles a day total and I have an audiobook playing in my ears for just about every minute of that.
Reading is a relaxing, stress-relieving hobby.
If you’re not sold on the idea that reading is worth your time, Mental Floss compiled a list of scientific reasons you should read more. This study is a few years old, but here’s a highlight that might jump out at you.
“In 2009, scientists at the University of Sussex in the UK assessed how different activities lowered stress by measuring heart rate and muscle tension.
Reading a book or newspaper for just six minutes lowered people’s stress levels by 68% — a stronger effect than going for a walk (42%), drinking a cup of tea or coffee (54%), or listening to music (61%).”
Escaping to an exciting world of fiction can definitely brighten up and destress your day. Now, if you take a page out of my book and listen to a book while you walk, who knows what might happen?
Here’s a disclaimer though. Find that pleasant balance between having your volume high enough to hear the narrator of the book but also make sure it’s not so high that you’re going to walk right into the car that’s beeping at you or the person who’s yelling at you.
Reading can improve your memory and make you more empathetic.
There are actually quite a few ways reading can improve your health, as crazy as that sounds. In particular, a 2013 study found that reading literary fiction can improve your theory of mind. Oddly enough, reading many different stories by many different types of people can help you understand others a little bit better.
I'm a fiction junkie. If I’m lucky, I’ll have that feeling of having completed an incredible story and I’ll stew in that feeling for a few hours or a few days. I do lean toward fiction over non-fiction, though I strive to read a mix of both.
Reading a book can either be an act of enjoyment or an act of learning.
In the end, it still takes work if you want to change anything in your life. Reading can help, accumulating knowledge is always a worthy pursuit, but reading alone won’t make you wake up as a brand new person tomorrow.
It’s easy to fall into these trappings, especially with the rampant rise in self-help books that promise you’ll find the secret to attaining true joy and happiness from the pages of a book. If you read primarily fiction like me, you might not go in with this expectation, and that’s a good thing. Reading one, two, or five books a month is fun, but you’re still you.
You need to actively apply what you read to your life if you want to make a change.
Reaping the benefits of reading can take form in many different ways; if you’re reading for fun, then perhaps you need that fun to keep a more positive outlook. I know this might sound like a stretch, but my point is that simply reading isn’t going to dramatically change your life unless you push yourself to make a change.
If you’re reading personal development books, this remains true. Reading about how to make a change is helpful, but you’ve still got to push yourself to make the change you desire.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne had some very interesting findings about the effectiveness of positive psychology-based self-help books. The study explains how when a personal development book is solidly rooted in psychology, it can indeed be quite helpful. This study does show that it doesn’t hurt to read the right self-help books.
In the end, I believe reading is a worthwhile and transformative habit.
You’ll hear both extremely good things and extremely bad things about the actual value of reading a lot.
I am on Team Read More. You might still be on Team Read Less. If you are, I’d encourage you to pick up some fiction of your favorite genre and see if it brightens up your day just a little bit. Starting with a simple, purely fun way to increase your reading and see if it makes your typical days a little bit more enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a bigger intervention, try reading self-help books that are solidly rooted in psychology. At the end of the day, reading is beneficial for a variety of reasons, whether you can read one book a month or five.