How Much Should I Read A Day? These Studies Have Some Answers On The Ideal Amount Of Time

Share
Ad failed to load

According to a 2014 Time magazine article, Americans read (in their words) “a paltry 19 minutes a day.” (19 minutes is pretty paltry.) The stat comes from a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who also noted that younger Americans, aged 25-34, read just four minutes a day — really, who are you people? — while American adults over 75 read upwards of one hour each day — aka: my peeps.

Now, as a book-lover, I just have to say: the ideal amount of time to spend reading each day is basically all of the time. But, unrealistic is that is, (because: bills, food, laundry) at least as much time as is available; which, I promise you, is more than four minutes, no matter how busy I might be. But, national stats and personal preferences aside, is there actually a science-backed number of minutes you should spend reading each day? After all, we already know reading helps improve memory and cognitive function, increases empathy and reduces stress, can improve social skills, and actually increases not only your intelligence but your learning capacity as well. Chances are, all those benefits aren’t happening in just four minutes.

It turns out, there are some science-backed guidelines for how much you should read every day. And the numbers may surprise you.

Ad failed to load

1It might be only 30 minutes a day.

Giphy

As part of the University of Michigan’s yearly Health and Retirement Study, researchers examined how many hours per week subjects (over 3,600 men and women, over the age of 50) read each week. Based on their responses, researchers determined that people who spend just 30 minutes reading per day lived an average of two years longer than their peers who didn’t.

2But… that’s 30 minutes a day, over several years.

Giphy

The study was conducted over the course of 24 years, surveying subjects every other year between 1992 and 2016 — so you can’t just read 30 minutes a day every so often and expect it to work. That’s 30 dedicated minutes a day, every day (or, at least, nearly every day) for at least 12 years. Better start stocking that TBR pile now.

3And, there’s another caveat: what you read matters.

Giphy

The benefits of those 30 minutes were only observed in subjects who read fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or literary prose. In fact, the same study also showed that subjects who reported 30 minutes or more of reading a book each day were 23 percent less likely to die between 2001 and 2012 than their peers who read only newspapers or magazines.

Ad failed to load

4The speed at which you read might matter too.

Giphy

In a 2012 article, Forbes Magazine contributor Brett Nelson quoted a Staples-sponsored speed reading test that demonstrated the average American reader reads 300 words per minute, without sacrificing comprehension. He then broke that number down into various forms of media: newspapers and blogs, magazines, books, and e-mails and texts. Looking at the numbers, Nelson argued that a reader consuming text at the average of 300 words per minute will have to set aside two hours of reading each day, just to take in the daily amount of newspapers, magazines, books, and other written text necessary to be successful (in this case, however, the stats seemed to apply specifically to investors and serial entrepreneurs… so if you’re not employed in one of those two professions, this might not apply to you.)

5The rules are also different for young people.

Giphy

A list of guidelines by the University at Albany recommended that children spend an average of 15-20 minutes reading each day — and that’s above and beyond any reading they might be doing in school. The idea is that it may take children who are learning to read time to build up their bookish stamina (raise your hand if you skipped that step.)

6The moral of the story: read every day.

Giphy

Whether you're reading 30 minutes each day or upwards of two hours, the key is to get some (book) reading in every single day. The benefits are well charted: improving both intelligence and emotional IQ, reducing stress, and allowing readers to, on average, live longer than non-readers. Which means you'll have even more time to spend reading. Sounds like a win/win to me.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

Bustle's Editors On Jennifer Aniston + Adam Rippon

We've made it to Friday! It's been a pretty hectic week, and the news that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are splitting up might have put a damper on your weekend. But, if like many people you have Monday off, hopefully you can sit back and enjo…
By Rachel Simon

This Timeline Of Justin Theroux & Jennifer Aniston's Relationship Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

Just one day after Valentine's Day, actors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced their breakup after seven years together. The celebrity couple, who were married for two-and-half years, separated quietly at the end of last year. This week, th…
By Priscilla Totiyapungprasert

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

A Study Suggests Drinking Soda Can Affect Your Fertility — But Don’t Freak Out Just Yet

An awful lot of things can affect fecundability — that is, the probability of conceiving within a single menstrual cycle — but can soda really decrease your chances of getting pregnant? A new study suggests that it might, although it turns out that t…
By Lucia Peters

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Money Actually CAN Buy Happiness — And Science Figured Out Exactly How Much It Costs

You’ve probably heard the saying “Money can’t buy happiness.” Personally, I’d be more than willing to test out that hypothesis myself, but researchers at Purdue University beat me to it. Researchers found that there is an actual amount of money it ta…
By Katie Mitchell

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

These 10 Drugstore Red Lipsticks Are Under $10 & Actually *Amazing*

I adore makeup. There are few things I like more than getting myself fancied up in the mornings. It's a little ritual I get to do every day that makes me feel prettier and more put together. When my makeup is on, I'm ready to face the world — pun int…
via Romper

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper