It’s a great day for bookworms everywhere. Not only is today National Book Lovers Day, but a recent study suggests a chapter a day may keep the Grim Reaper away.
Yale University researchers, who published their discovery in the journal Social Science & Medicine, found “book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.”
The participants in the study included 3,635 subjects, all over 50. Everyone in the study either read up to 3.5 hours per week at maximum, or surpassed that mark.
The difference between the two groups was substantial: book lovers lived almost two years longer than the people who kept their novels closed.
Even with education level, income, health status, and other variables taken into consideration, the Yale team found readers who broke the 3.5 hour plateau were 23% less likely to die during that 12-year study period. The group that read up to 3.5 hours a week, or an average of 30 minutes a day, were 17% less likely in comparison.
Why reading can extend a person’s life isn’t yet clear. The research simply links book reading and longevity, which is not a causal relationship. However, this new information falls in line with related research, namely that reading novels seems to improve brain connectivity and empathy.
The good news is book buying has steadily increased over the past few years. At least 652 million print and electronic books were sold in the United States in 2015, according to Nielsen BookScan, the go-to data collector for the book publishing industry. The statistics for young adults are encouraging too, with 80% American young adults reading at least one book last year. That’s much better than the 68% of 50 to 64 year olds who read just a single novel in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey.