Everyone understands the benefits of reading—a more substantial knowledge base, a better vocabulary, exploring new worlds in fiction or nonfiction—but not everyone believes they have time to spare to tackle a book. Work duties, personal obligations, and family time can all discourage people from reaching for that volume on the nightstand, too afraid to start something they don’t think they can finish
Fortunately, even a little reading can go a long way.
According to Naomi S. Baron, Ph.D., a professor of linguistics at American University in Washington, D.C., setting a goal of reading just 15 pages a day accomplishes a number of things. It requires only a modest time commitment—most people can likely finish reading 15 pages in 30 minutes or less—which can make the idea of tackling a book less imposing. More importantly, it creates a habit. Like exercise or practicing a musical instrument, consistency counts. If you eye a book and think that you’ll get to it only when you have time to spend an hour making progress through its pages, you could end up putting it off for days or even weeks. By committing to a routine, you’ll be better able to maintain focus and understanding of its subject, plot, and themes. (Anyone who has ever put a book down for a month and then returned to it, only to be confused by what’s going on, can understand that.)
Equally important to committing to daily reading is placing an emphasis on pages—actual physical pages, not digital text. Holding an analog book ensures that you’re making the most of your allotted time, concentrating fully on the substance of the material. If you consume it digitally, you’re bound to succumb to all the distractions that come with electronic devices. You’ll check email. You’ll glance at sports scores. You’ll look up movie times. Picking up a book removes those obstacles and allows you to focus, which in turn allows you to better retain details and information.
There’s another benefit to holding a book: a sense of accomplishment. Pinching 15 pages between your fingers lets you know what the goal is and charts your progress. You can see a physical manifestation of the commitment, both in the pages you've passed and the ones you have ahead.
Mental Floss is partnering with the Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds® “15 Pages A Day” reading initiative to make sure that everyone has the opportunity (and time) to take part in The Mental Floss Book Club. It’s easy! Take the pledge at howlifeunfolds.com/15pages.