It's been a long day. You set your alarm for 7am to get in a quick run before work. Instead, you pressed snooze and slept until 8:30, providing yourself with no time to primp or stop for coffee. You rolled into work a few minutes late, then spent the rest of the day fighting sleep and getting increasingly more annoyed at your coworker's pen tapping on the edge of his desk.
Six-o-clock comes around and you finally get to leave. You pick up a burrito bowl on your way home, kick off your shoes upon walking in the door, pour a big ole' glass of Pinot and sink into the couch. The new paperback you bought two months ago at Barnes and Noble but never got around to reading rests on the coffee table next to your feet. You eye it like you have every night since buying it, then pull the T.V. remote from between two couch cushions and watch a few (okay, more than a few) episodes of The Office on Netflix before slouching off to bed.
This scenario seems to happen to nearly every individual at one point or another. Why do we always choose the show over the book?
Maybe it's because reading takes more brain power, and we're tired. Maybe it's because it's easier to multitask while watching something rather than reading. I'm guilty of it, and, more than likely, you are, too. According to Business Insider, "In 2014, the Pew Research Center revealed that one-quarter of American adults hadn't read a single book in the previous year."
My situation is particularly ironic since I'm an English major. I went through a fairly lengthy period of time when I was choosing Friends reruns over new novels. Meanwhile, I kept adding books to my shelf that I would get to later, but it wasn't until recently that I noticed I hadn't made a dent in my "to read" list. I created excuses for myself by thinking about all the reading I do for homework each night, but that didn't make me feel much better. So that night, instead of turning on the TV, I opened a book.
Of course, reading is known to be good for you, and the advantages can vary greatly. For example, the same Business Insider article cited above, claims that "those who read consistently exhibit significantly greater memory and mental abilities at all stages in life." According to Elite Daily magazine, "Reading also lowers stress levels" and reading fiction will "improve [your] ability to empathize with other people."
Not only that, reading also relaxes the body and allows for better sleep. Huffington Post reveals, "Bright lights, including those from electronic devices, signal to the brain that it's time to wake up." This is particularly relevant since we spend many hours each day staring at screens. Looking at phones, laptops, or televisions right before bed will keep you up longer than if you were to read a book in a dimly lit space.
So next time you get home from a long day at school or work, choose the book. It's scientifically proven that you'll be a better person for it. And who doesn't want that?