Long Live the Book Readers!
By Elisa Morgan
People who read books live longer than people who don't. It's true!
A recent study by Yale University researchers, published online in the journal Social Science and Medicine, concluded that "book readers experienced a 20 per cent reduction in the risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers."*
When I saw the headline, I wondered if readers live longer due to an innate drive to finish the stack of books on their bedside table before they die. Of course, we don't know if there are books in heaven or not!
Here's the scoop: The study looked at 3,635 people, all older than 50, divided into three groups: those who didn't read books, those who read up to 3.5 hours a week and those who read more than 3.5 hours a week. And guess what? Book readers survived almost two years longer than non-readers. Those who read up to 3.5 hours a week, that's an average of 30 minutes a day, were 17% less likely to die and those who read more than 3.5 hours a day were 23% less likely.
I think that's fascinating. Don't you? But if you're like me, you find yourself wooed by the next Netflix series release, a jigsaw puzzle app or even the Pokemon Go craze. I mean, look around the next time you're sitting in the carpool lane, waiting at the doctor's office or on a plane. How many folks around you are reading? Maybe they're looking at their phone and moving their eyes through emails and such. But actually reading? A book?
So here's a thought. Let's share some favorite books together and spur one another on to longer - and perhaps more informed - life? They can be books to be downloaded on an iPad or read cover to cover. Nonfiction and fiction. Christian and classic. Bestsellers and undiscovered.
Here are five from me:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas: One of my all-time favorites. A story of suffering and forgiveness and of grace lived out.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese: Released in 2009 but maybe not read by all. A powerful story of a love and family and commitment.
Falling Upward by Richard Rohr: A challenging read about the soul work needed in later life.
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor: A contemplative exploration of all the ways we can discover God in our every day world.
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas: The biography of a man who gave his life, literally, to live out his faith during Nazi Germany.
Thirty minutes a day doing something most of us love but have a hard time getting around to doing. That's all it takes to live longer.
"...of the making of books, there is no end..." Ecclesiastes 12:12
Elisa Morgan reads books, writes books, and speaks to equip and ecourage women. She is the cohost of Discover the Word. Her books include Hello, Beauty Full, The Beauty of Broken and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, on Facebook and elisamorganauthor on Instagram.
*"Long Live the Book Readers," Amy Ellis Nutt, The Denver Post, Saturday, August 13, 2016, 8C.