Tag Archives: Book

Should We Be Reading Instead of Binge-Watching?

If you’ll recall from yesterday’s post, humans are wired for binge-watching. I wonder — are we spending too much time “vegging out” binge-watching when we’d be better off reading?

The map above comes from a post from Gizmodo earlier this month. It might be a bit hard to read the numbers, but it shows the average amount of time spent by each country reading. India comes out on top reading, on average, 10 hours and 42 minutes per week. The US, by comparison, reads a little more than half as much as India at 5 hours and and 42 minutes per week. Canada’s not much better at 5 hours and 48 minutes.

I wonder if this data is affected by the availability of TV or maybe more specifically, the cultural availability of TV. Let me explain: in countries like the US, watching TV isn’t just something that’s an option when you’re trying to figure out what to do when you come home from work or school, it’s the norm. People have whole rooms dedicated for just TV watching. I’d suspect that this isn’t the case in other parts of the world where space is a premium. If I think about a country like India where 4 times as many people than there are in the US, I wonder if going off and reading a book somewhere might be a more desirable activity than trying to watch TV with 4, 5, or 6 other people. In the US, there’s the joke about who gets to have the TV controller — the husband or the wife. I wonder what the equivalency would be when you’re fighting for the controller with 2 aunts and uncles, along with your cousins.

Regardless, as I alluded to in the second sentence, North Americans might be better off taking after the rest of the world by burying their heads in a good book. Or, maybe it’s time to hit the gym.

How Trusting Your Gut Can Save You From Sizable Stress

I mentioned recently that I’m in the process of moving back to Canada. If you’ve ever moved, you know that there are certainly lots of things that you have to do when it comes time to start packing the truck. More than that, there are even more things you have to consider when you’re moving to a different country. Granted, some might say that Canada isn’t all that different from the USA, but it is still technically a different country, so that means that there is likely to be paperwork you wouldn’t have had to deal with, had you just been moving to a different part of the country or across town.

On the day of the move (packing the moving truck and leaving the apartment for the last time), I had a couple of library books that had to be returned. Now, I knew I’d be coming back to the area in a couple of months and I knew that these books wouldn’t be due until after I made my trip back to the area, but I just had this feeling that I should return the books on the day of the move. It wasn’t entirely rational, especially given that there were so many other move-related things I could have been doing.

When I get to the library, I hand my books over to the person behind the desk and I start to turn to leave. Just as I do that, I get the sense that I might as well make sure that there’s nothing else showing that I owe on my account. She asks for my library card and then checks the system. Yes, you seem to still have The Power of Habit and What Money Can’t Buy checked out.

I was so confused because I had returned these books about a week earlier when I picked up the two books that I was returning today. She said that it was showing in their system that I still had them checked out, so I explained to her how that wasn’t possible given that I returned them the day that I picked up the books I was returning today. She said that maybe they were still in the back and hadn’t been taken off of my account, so she went to go look.

They weren’t there.

When she came back, I kind of started to panic a little bit. I realize now that having to pay for this library book wouldn’t have been that great of a hassle, but when all your mind is thinking about is packing a 26′ moving truck in a few hours…

Then she said that maybe the books were on the shelf. On the shelf!? I thought. How could they be on the shelf and not shown as returned on my account. She said that it happens sometimes, so her and I went to check the shelves.

Sure enough, that’s where the books were. On the shelf.

As we were riding back down in the elevator, I asked her what would have happened had I not come in today and got this taken care of before I left town. She told me that they probably would have charged my account. To which I said, even though the books were on the shelves? She replied: “Yup!”

~

I certainly understand the importance of biases in decision-making, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll completely ignore a gut feeling. Sometimes, a gut feeling is so strong that we can’t help but check-in and see what’s going on. I’ve had experiences like this before, so I knew well enough when I was getting this kind of a response from my gut, I needed to follow-through with it. I encourage you to do the same, but don’t take it lightly. It’s important to learn the difference between hunger pangs and a gut feeling. It takes time, so don’t be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t come to you right away.

 

Women Read More Fiction: Is That Why They’re More Empathic?

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a rather informative tweet:

 

When I first saw that, I was a bit surprised. Statistics tells us that for every 100 females born, there are 105 males born. So, there should be more boys than girls and as a result, we might expect that more boys would be reading than girls. Of course, there are so many other factors involved, but from a volume standpoint, I’d think that more boys would read than girls. I thought I’d click-through and read the report, but it’s behind a wee bit of a paywall to the tune of $799. As a result, I won’t be able to (maybe you or someone you know can?) read over the statistics. Nonetheless, I had a different direction I’d like to take this post. Empathy.

I’ve written before about how reading fiction can boost empathy. This very important human skill needs to be cultivated and one of the ways to do that is to read fiction. In addition, we all know the ‘stereotype’ that women are more empathetic than men. However, when there’s data to back it up, I suppose that it’s not so much a ‘stereotype’ as a likelihood. So, in putting these pieces together, my thought was that maybe this empathy gap has grown because women are more likely to read fiction than men. Sounds plausible, right?

In doing research for this post, I came across something from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley. That post was talking about whether women’s empathy is the result of nature or nurture. It cited a few studies supporting both sides of the debate. I wonder if we could then add the data point of women reading more fiction to the nurture side… or the nature side? Nature side, you ask confused? Well, in saying that women read more fiction leading to greater empathy, we’d have to test whether women reading more fiction leads to a greater empathy or if women having greater empathy prefer to read. If you know anyone doing empathy research, this might be an interesting study.