Jennifer at Scraps and Snippets posted about Lifelong Learning at her blog, citing a 2006 article by Harvey Mackay packed with statistics to make an autodidact sprint to her bookcase and grab anything within reach:
- Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
- 51 percent of the American population never reads a book more than 400 pages after they complete their formal education.
- 73 percent of all books in libraries are never checked out.
- The average American watches 32 hours of TV every week.
- The average American reads only eight hours (books, newspapers, magazines, Yellow Pages, etc.) every week.
- The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what he puts into his head.
Consider the following:
- If you read just one book per month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world!
- If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world’s foremost leading authorities on that subject!
- If you read just 15 minutes a day — every day, for one year — you can complete 20 books!
The idea of becoming an expert by focusing one’s reading on a single subject reminds me of a post I wrote about lifelong learning and Five Fat Files. In it, I referenced an online article on brain research that included a statement attributed to Albert Einstein:
Einstein said that if a person studies a subject for just 15 minutes a day in a year he will be an expert, and in five years he may be a national expert.
Literary agent Terry Whalin used those same statistics from the Mackay article to encourage writers to read regularly.
With these statistics, it is little wonder that parts of the publishing business are struggling (and even predicting the struggle will continue for some.)If you want to be involved in some aspect of publishing (books or magazine writing where your work appears in print), then you need to be committed to reading on a regular basis. It’s important to take in great information through reading. The experience will fill your mind and heart with something important which will influence your writing. Create a habit of reading.
So. After pondering the statistics and recommendations, I’m feeling positively brilliant for having read a few books in the past couple of months.
Just last weekend I finished Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love.
The kids and I are reading Swiss Family Robinson (read online for free) and listening to The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew on tape (also available online for free).
I also did a quick-read of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids and almost finished a short book by N.T. Wright entitled Who Was Jesus?
According to Mackay, I’m on track to being “in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world!”
It’s easy if we follow Mackay’s claim that reading just 15 minutes a day—every day, for one year—we can complete 20 books.
Just fifteen minutes a day.
I’m going to grab that book by Wright and finish it up. But before I head off, I’d like to pose two simple questions and hope that our answers will demonstrate that the blogging world can throw off Mackay’s dismal statistics:
What have you read recently…and what do you plan to read?
Just read: “When we were orphans” by Kazuo Ishiguro, and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, and I am now reading “Dune” (wanted to for a long time but never got beyond the first few pages, finally got through and love it).
Just read a book about Amy Carmichaels life in India, called Suffer the Little Children to Come…it was so excellent I immediately passed it on to someone who needed uplifting in the “Holy Drudgery” department…working through John Bunyan’s Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ…because I am a tremendous fan of Pilgrim’s Progress…would recomend War and Peace and/or Anna Karenina (both by Leo Tolstoy) to anyone who wants a fun chunk of a book to read that is so satisfying because they last forever…
I did not become a bibliophile until I was an adult.
Not read, may as well say not breathe.
Miss W says
I just finished A Painted House, by John Grisham. Coincidentally, I want to read Dune next, but am waiting for a student to return it to the school library. (Yeah, I like my books free.) At my school, the teachers have posters outside their doors that list the books they have read/are reading/are going to read this school year. This really guilts me into getting some good reading done. 🙂
Great post…I love knowing what others are reading and usually add the titles of many to my long list of books to read…can we give thanks to libaries…a wonderful gift.
I recently read Clinging by Emilie Griffin, it’s a book about the experience of prayer…one of my all time favorites…I re-read it every couple of years.
I read The Other Boleyn Girl (over 600 pages…ehem…lol). I am currently reading Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Alsup…I won this in a giveaway and also Life with God by Richard Foster and I just got Crazy Love by Francis Chan…I am anxious to start it…I usually have several books going at once…so many books!
Lisa in ME says
Oh my – seriously? I read so much it’s not even funny! I read while I eat breakfast which is usually at least 15 minutes in and of itself. I read before bed. If the book is REALLY good, I’ve been known to do nothing else for the whole day! My poor kids. 😉 But they love to read too as does their dad. We all pass this statistic with flying colors. I’m currently reading a sci-fi series & I’m on book #3 – just about done too. I also just read a Dee Henderson Book – God’s Gift – excellent book.
I love to read. And my 13 year olds love to read which I think is fantastic. I so, wanted them to love to read. Really – that was my hope! We spent hours at the library, hours walking back and forth to the library, hours reading and rereading the same stories. Climbing into the big bed with a huge stack of books. I am just going to begin Dennis Lehane’s newest. And there are a ton on junior fiction just released that I would like to read:
Dooley takes the Fall – Norah McClintook,
Starclimber – Kenneth Oppel
The Perfect Cut – Julie Burtinshaw
Wow- those statistics are staggering! And sad, for the most part. I am reading “Telling Secrets” by Fredrick Buechner and re-reading “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas willard. Both I highly recommend… they are very different. The first is a short memoir that’s chalked full with wisdom and the second is longer and more detailed.
Although I don’t read much fiction, I must say that Redeeming Love is well worth the time! A lovely parallel to Hosea.
What am I reading? Well, I just finished The Gift of Pain by Dr. Paul Brand (will soon do a post series on it! Extremely challenging.); in the middle of Savage Peace by Ann Hagedorn; got about 20 pages into Utopia by Sir Thomas More and have stalled out (help! can’t seem to catch the rhythm); and plan to start (today! even now!) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows.
Great post and comments—a great way to add to my “to read” list.
Well, I was pretty sure I’d get some strong reader-responses! I wonder how that study was conducted and how and who they polled?
Yvonne: I’ve heard about Dune for such a long time and yet never thought of picking it up…until now, when I’m reading your positive response after plowing through the beginning. The other titles are on my to-read list, also.
Shepherdsgrace: Love the quote at the end, and your book list, too. I read Anna K a long time ago (and remember very little, sadly), but never did tackle War & Peace. You may have read more already as an adult than most do in a lifetime!
great post, ann–my goal for 2008 was to read 4 books a month and though the first 6 months i was on target, and i surged in the summer, the past few months have only had an average of 1.5 books/month. so think how encouraged i am after reading your post to think i’m in the top percent of intellectuals anyway! ha!
i’m currently finishing “have a new kid by friday” at a recommendation by a friend, i actually love my 7 kids just the way they are…i hope i don’t get a new kid by friday and we are getting ready to move 1000 miles away the first of the year, so i’m reading a few books on moving to refresh my memory. i’m also reading the book of james every. single. day. as we pray for wisdom to know the next step (and for my children who are attending public school for the first time after 10 years of homeschooling).
keep up the good work-
jodi in fl–but soon in pa
Miss W: Such easy access to free books! Such guilt-ridden motivation! Ah, to be a teacher…
I came home from the library today happy with my bundle of word treasures. Some are for research more than pleasure-reading. I don’t read those as thoroughly. But I do love the library.
Helen: (See above for my shared library-love). You are a book-juggler! Can you keep them all straight? I can only successfully do that if they are very different from each other.
Lisa: I love that you bookend your day with, well, books! From breakfast to bedtime, it’s books, books, books!
Ramona: What a happy, warm, book-lovin’ household yours must be! Congratulations on achieving your goal.
Kate: Mmm…thanks for the recommendation. I read Divine Conspiracy right after it came out, and it was so thick and detailed, I knew I’d have to come back to it again. Thanks for reminding me of it. Perhaps I should pull it off the shelf again?
Erin: I don’t read much fiction, either, but everyone and her sister had recommended R.L. to me. Our Sunday school class is studying Hosea. So I just decided to pull it off the shelf and see what all the hubbub was about. I ended up really liking it. Thanks for posting your list. I keep hearing good things about that Guernsey Literary/Potato Peel book.
Jodi: Wow! The reading-resolve and the moving-mania are so impressive! Lots of changes. I hope that the reading can provide, in some way, continuity in your life of so many new and different things (including climate!), for you and your kids.
Great post! I’m so an expert on everything! L.O.L.
I am re-reading The Pickwick Papers at bedtime. A friend recommended that for honeymoon reading (yes, I’m the kind of person who asks what reading material I should take on my honeymoon and who has the kind of friends who will answer with a straight face!) — that was almost 30 years ago!
Bridget (my 11 year old) and I are listening to an unabridged version of Oliver Twist on our car rides to lessons. Very well done by Nadia May. She does the voices to perfection.
So it’s all Dickens all the time!
Actually, I just finished Fifty Acres and a Poodle and The Exact Same Moon by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Very well written in a genre I just love (I wonder why): slightly intense woman goes off to fulfill her dream doing something she really doesn’t know how to do 🙂
Also by my bedside is the Life of Johnson by Boswell…working on it…
I plan to read…something good next…not sure what! Maybe I’ll get something good for Christmas!
lynn hopper says
I just read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” last night–it is excellent! Two friends recommended it, and one loaned it to me. My eyes aren’t up to as much reading as I would like to do, but I literally could not put that one down, and finished it in one sitting!
I recently read “safely home” (about persecution in China) and now I am reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.
This was a great post, Ann. I love to read so I think I’m doing okay! : )
Ann @ Holy Experience says
Fascinating, Ann… when I read those stats a few months back, I tried to track down the source MacKay used — I was intrigued and wanted to know more. And I found this:
Always good things to ponder here, Ann…
I send much, much love, wise friend…
Ann!!! I’m such a fan of your books & blog. What a treat, to find your comment at the end of this enlightening article dated 7 years ago.
I thought Terry’s article was very good. Aren’t those numbers scary? In any case, it was a great reminder.
I’m always reading random things. I currently have a couple review books, fun apron books and I just got “The Triumph of Individual Style.” Although I got it via inter-library loan a year or so again, I can’t want to finish it.
Oh and thanks for the FFF relink. 🙂
The Five-Foot Shelf book series comes to mind. Charles W. Eliot mentioned in speeches that someone could get a liberal education by just reading 15 min a day from a collection of books.
Ann Kroeker says
Wonderful! I’m so excited to visit this and learn more–thank you!