The Increasing Importance of 30 Minutes of Uninterrupted Reading Every Day

WSJ: Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress

On September 16, 2014 The Wall Street Journal reported on the importance of at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading every day. A few quotes:

Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn’t make it through a book anymore.

Slow readers list numerous benefits to a regular reading habit, saying it improves their ability to concentrate, reduces stress levels and deepens their ability to think, listen and empathize.

Screens have changed our reading patterns from the linear, left-to-right sequence of years past to a wild skimming and skipping pattern as we hunt for important words and information.

One 2006 study of the eye movements of 232 people looking at Web pages found they read in an “F” pattern, scanning all the way across the top line of text but only halfway across the next few lines, eventually sliding their eyes down the left side of the page in a vertical movement toward the bottom.

None of this is good for our ability to comprehend deeply, scientists say. Reading text punctuated with links leads to weaker comprehension than reading plain text, several studies have shown. A 2007 study involving 100 people found that a multimedia presentation mixing words, sounds and moving pictures resulted in lower comprehension than reading plain text did.

Slow reading means a return to a continuous, linear pattern, in a quiet environment free of distractions. Advocates recommend setting aside at least 30 to 45 minutes in a comfortable chair far from cellphones and computers. Some suggest scheduling time like an exercise session. Many recommend taking occasional notes to deepen engagement with the text.

You can find the full article here.

It’s an issue worth exploring, particularly as it relates to our interaction with God’s written revelation: are my habits of digital interaction with Google, my smartphone, and social media negatively impacting my ability to read, understand, and meditate upon the most important book of all? Am I dedicated to regularly reading and meditating on the words of life? What am I doing and what can I do to deepen my engagement with the text?

I’ve shared before about the tremendous benefit of devoting 45-50 minutes per day to the Grant Horner Bible Reading Plan.

What about you? Do you feel this tension? Where are the struggles? What’s working for you?

About Jason Hardin

Jason lives in southern Indiana with his wife Shelly and their three daughters. He works with the Charlestown Road church of Christ. Jason has written three books and a variety of workbooks. He's a fan of photography, baseball, mountains, wildlife, BBQ, banana pudding, and coffee. You can contact him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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