Reading Makes People Feel Happier and Smarter, According to New Poll

m-imagephotography/iStock via Getty Images
m-imagephotography/iStock via Getty Images

Reading subscription service Scribd wants Americans to read more, and they've recently discovered that a vast majority of Americans would like to see that happen, too.

In late May, the company tasked The Harris Poll with conducting a survey on America's reading habits. They asked more than 2000 adults a variety of questions, such as: Does reading make you feel smarter? Does it enhance your well-being? How does reading compare to scrolling through social media? Among some of the poll's most interesting takeaways:

  • The average person has four hours and 26 minutes of free time each week, but 81 percent of Americans do not read as much as they would like to. Instead of reading, Americans typically use that time to stream movies and/or TV shows (86 percent of people said they do this for a minimum of 15 minutes a day), perform chores (84 percent), and/or scroll through social media (74 percent).
  • Of the individuals polled, 52 percent said they read for at least 15 minutes a day, but only 22 percent reported reading an hour or more a day; 35 percent said they wish they were reading more.
  • It’s a fact that reading even just 15 pages a day comes with a host of benefits, including a more substantial knowledge base and a better vocabulary. When asked how they felt after reading, 55 percent of respondents said they felt more relaxed, 33 percent felt happier, and 32 percent felt smarter. In fact, 75 percent of those polled believe that people who read regularly are smarter than those who do not.
  • Reading makes people feel more accomplished, too: 69 percent said they felt more accomplished after reading versus only 45 percent who felt that way after scrolling through social media.
  • 55 percent of respondents said they only need to read for 15 minutes to feel like they've accomplished something. (Fun fact: People who read books for 30 minutes every day may live an average of 23 months longer than non-readers according to a 2016 study.)
  • Social media can be a time sucker, but according to the poll, it might also be draining our intelligence. 32 percent of respondents said they felt smarter after reading while only 7 percent felt smarter after “reading” social media. 5 percent of people said reading was a waste of their time whereas a whopping 35 percent of people considered spending time on social media a waste of time.

Despite wanting to read more, people aren’t doing it enough: 39 percent of people said they don’t read because they don’t have enough time, while by 22 percent that said that "it’s easier to do other things"—like watching Netflix. For that latter group, Scribd recommends listening to audiobooks, which is better than not reading at all.

Rediscover Moby-Dick With This Beautifully Illustrated Limited-Edition Book

Waterbell/Ben Howe
Waterbell/Ben Howe

Book printer Waterbell is giving readers and art lovers alike a new reason to revisit Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick with these beautifully illustrated editions of the classic tale. Waterbell collaborated with artist Ben Howe to create these unique editions, which bring moody, fully painted artwork that's meant to capture the atmosphere of Melville's writing.

The different editions are available on Kickstarter, and there are a few ways to back this project. To start, $27 will get you the hardcover Collectable Edition, which features six full-page illustrations and illustrated endpapers. It’s all bound together in a jacket featuring a design by Howe.

For $166, you’ll receive the hardcover Limited Edition copy. Along with the same artwork found in the Collectable Edition, these books are hand-sewn, signed by the bookbinder, and numbered. For $3305, you’ll receive the original Burial at Sea painting featured in the book.

This isn’t Waterbell’s first time collaborating with artists to give the classics a fresh look. Other tales include Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, and more. According to their website, only 1440 copies of their editions are created. The made-to-order books are meticulously crafted using a hammer to curve the spine, a needle and thread to bind the pages, and many other techniques.

Image from 'Moby-Dick' from Waterbell.
Waterbell/Ben Howe

Howe took an equally meticulous approach to create the artwork for Moby-Dick. He started by sculpting the subjects of his paintings out of clay, only to destroy the sculptures once the painting was complete.

With $1246 raised, the campaign still has a bit to go before reaching its $2645 goal, but you can help bring the project to life until March 18 by heading here.

Book cover of 'Moby-Dick.'
Waterbell/Ben Howe

If you can't quit the white whale, check out this special pop-up edition published around the time of Melville’s 200th birthday last year.

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Give Your Morning Coffee a Literary Flair With Mugs Decorated With Quotes From Edgar Allan Poe, the Brontë sisters, and More

In addition to individual author mugs, there are also mugs decorated with famous first and last lines from classic books.
In addition to individual author mugs, there are also mugs decorated with famous first and last lines from classic books.
Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

Give your coffee (or tea) a little literary flavor with one of these mugs designed by the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. For between $16 and $24, you can purchase a mug that features quotes from Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, Kurt Vonnegut, or the Brontë sisters, along with designs inspired by the mood of their works. Dahl's mug, for example, is fittingly whimsical, with illustrations by his longtime visual collaborator Quentin Blake; meanwhile, Poe's dreary, macabre design perfectly sums up that first cup of coffee at the beginning of the work week.

All Unemployed Philosophers Guild mugs are microwavable, and most are dishwasher-safe. Plus, a portion of all proceeds goes to supporting a variety of charitable organizations. If you’re looking for even more bookish drinkware, you can try out a mug featuring famous first or last lines from literature.

Greatest first lines in literature coffee mug.
This mug features the first lines of novels like Catch-22, Gravity's Rainbow, and more.
Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

If books aren't your thing, don’t worry—the Unemployed Philosophers Guild also sells mugs decorated with mathematical formulas, presidential slogans, and instructions for tying knots.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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