Mar 22, 2022 - Economy

The pandemic revived reading

Illustration of an open storybook under a floating upward trend line surrounded by sparkles

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Most of us were reading less — until 2020.

By the numbers: The average American read 20 minutes a day in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. That's up 21% from 2019, and the most since the early 2000s.

Why it matters: The decline of reading — especially among teens — alarms scholars. But reading’s pandemic-era renaissance offers us hope.

Case in point: I set a goal this year to read a book a week.

  • I was an English major in college but have barely picked up a book since graduation.
  • I'll come clean: We're in the 12th week of the year, and I've only finished 8 books. But I've learned a lot.

Five reading tips:

  1. Just stop: There are too many awesome books out there for you to soldier on through one that’s not delighting or helping you. Quit the second you have had your fill.
  2. Make it a habit: Build books into your daily routine, so you’re reading when you wake up ... or commute ... or at bedtime.
  3. Track yourself: I use the app Reading List to keep track of my progress, and what I'm reading next.
  4. Digital detox: Keep your phone out of reach when you read to eliminate temptation.
  5. Family time: If you have kids, read to them. If you live with a roommate or a partner, read together.

🏁 Editor's note: This article appeared first in Axios Finish Line, a new newsletter in the Axios Daily Essentials package.

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