Pleasure, Success, and Reading
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Mary lay down on the sofa with her book, and she opened it again. She couldn?t wait to find out what would happen next. She loved science fiction, and this book was one of the most famous sci-fi books of all time: 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Mary started reading again. It was three million years ago, and the ape-men were dying of hunger. It was a desperate situation. Then, something happened that would change everything. A large, black stone appeared in the desert. It was smooth, and it made strange sounds, like music. Actually, the stone was put there by intelligent beings from outer space, and it had the power to communicate ideas to the ape-men.
Afraid but curious, one of the ape-men touched it, and then an idea slowly came into his head. The ape-man didn?t have a word for his idea, but it was clear to him. He could use a bone to kill another animal. Then he could eat and live. So he found a bone and killed an animal, and then he ate. His idea led to the invention of the first tool, and it saved him and his group of ape-men.
Mary put the book down. ?What an amazing story!? she said to herself. Mary didn?t realize that the book in her hand was also like a tool. At age 16, she was a normal girl, and like many of her friends, she read for pleasure. But there was something special about reading for pleasure that Mary didn?t realize. It increased her chances for success in the future.
A researcher named Mark Taylor studied 17,200 survey responses from people born in 1970. Taylor asked them about their activities at age 16, and about their jobs at age 33. For girls who didn?t read for pleasure at age 16, they had a 25% chance of getting a professional or managerial job at age 33. But for girls like Mary, who did read for pleasure at age 16, they had a 39% chance of getting a professional or managerial job later in life. For boys, the chances went up from 48% to 58%.
Of course, 16 year-olds do many activities that could be linked to future success. But Taylor?s research showed this. Reading for pleasure was the only activity that correlated significantly to future success. That is, doing sports, going to museums or movies, cooking, or sewing were not linked to future success. Taylor thus concluded, ?According to our results there is something special about reading for pleasure.?
So what exactly is reading for pleasure? . . .
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