Today's Good News: Reading Can Make You Live Longer

This sentence may add a day or two all by itself.

A new study published in Social Science and Medicine alleges that reading books may increase one’s lifespan by up to two years.

The study was spearheaded by Becca R. Levy, a leading professor of epidemiology at the Yale University School of Public Health.

The team’s research followed the data of 3,635 men and women who were all part of the Health and Retirement Study, which is comprised of men and women aged 50 years and older.

All subjects disclosed their reading habits, and were monitored for the following 12 years. The study concludes that subjects with strong reading habits lived up to two years longer than those who rarely or never read. Those with stronger reading habits tended to be high income, college educated women.

Even after the consideration of confounding variables such as wealth, sex, education, illness, and marital status, the results remained. Apparently, those who reported to read newspapers and journals also experienced health benefits, but they were not as significant as those reaped from book reading.


Obviously, this is a conundrum for devout readers of Sylvia Plath. This is a great study for those of us who read a lot, however. A more perfect study would be one that researches readers who also regularly consume bacon and beer, but that seems like one I may have to fund myself.

I’ve recently had to work harder at making time to read. For years I was on the road, social media wasn’t a thing yet, and I had several hours a day alone in a hotel room (comedians have a lot of time away from the club) so reading was never a problem. Along came Twitter, Netflix and a zillion other distractions and I realized that I wasn’t getting in even a fraction of the reading I wanted to. So I began blocking off time at night to do so, swearing off social and streaming media. Now that I know there are health and longevity benefits, it should be easy to keep up.

Should I ever hit a Powerball jackpot, I will of course work more Netflix original programming back into my life mix.


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