Are Books a Waste of Time? Should You Still Read Them?

Books are a staple in the world, but as the years go on, more and more books are available. As many as 2.2 million books are published each year, we find ourselves now pondering a unique question, are books still worth your time? Let’s examine this topic.

Are books a waste of time?

Books aren’t a waste of time if you choose a book that interests you and expands your knowledge. If you choose a biography, non-fiction, or self-help books, you’ll spend your time more efficiently than 99% of people.

Why books can be a waste of time?

Let’s be frank, reading does have benefits, however, as with anything in life, benefits can be limited.

When you read nonfiction books

As far as providing helpful information or resources for your daily life, nonfiction books are essentially a waste of time in that respect. Yes, they provide entertainment, and that can be a nice escape, but if we’re looking at complete benefits then we need to look at other kinds of books.

Books are often too long

Filler is an unfortunate mainstay in the literary world. Books have word counts, and publishers demand that different books stay within different ranges. Because of this, authors often must ‘pad’ their books out with extra text that isn’t beneficial.

Most books can be compressed

There is a good reason why Cliff Notes exist. Many books can be compressed into twenty-minute information bursts without all the fluff and extra baggage.

Books written by experts aren’t understood by everyone

Many books written by experts in their fields can still contain great value. A book on medicine by a notable doctor or a book on physics by an accomplished scientist still deliver value in their respective fields. That value isn’t necessarily understood by everyone, but it is present.

Know your budget

Books aren’t free, for the most part. Spending truckloads of money on books that you will likely never read is the same as just throwing your money in the trash. Be diligent and make sure you know that what you are buying will provide some form of value to you.

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Self-Help books can be deceiving

The genre of Self-Help books is more popular than ever. However, not every Self-Help book will deliver on its promise. In fact, many of them will not. Every person is different, and there isn’t one sure-fire way to help everyone.

Too many books do not deliver on quality

With over two million books being published each year, all of those books can’t be worth your time. The sad fact is that many of the books published are just plain bad. It’s not beneficial for anyone to spend their time on something that doesn’t deliver quality.

Why books aren’t a waste of time at all?

Several books provide value and many ways that they deliver that value.

Books by experts can help you

I mentioned before that books written by experts in different fields will be beneficial. For any topic or subject in the world, there are books written about it. Be careful which you select to give your time to.

How-To books teach you how to perform tasks

A well written How-To book will teach its readers the skills needed to perform the specific task the book is written about. Not every How-To book is necessary, but there are plenty that will do exactly what they claim to do. They will teach you in a way that is easy to understand and implement after.

Relaxing your mind is important

I mentioned that nonfiction books are often a waste of time, and while objectively that is true, it is still important to unwind and relax.

Our minds and bodies can only handle so much stress. Even though nonfiction storybooks may not teach you a valuable skill or help you to understand a confusing subject, they do provide a needed break from life.

Reading makes you smarter

It is a proven fact that reading develops your brain and increases brain activity. Exploring topics and discovering new information expands the limits of your brain. The constant challenge of reading and finding new words and information has the effect of increasing the way your brain works. Simply put, reading more often will make you more intelligent.

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Reading develops empathy

Reading introduces us to different viewpoints and allows us to see things from a different perspective. Reading gives us a look into the life of another and we can see their experiences and how they differ from our own.

Reading has health benefits

Research shows that reading can help with depression, reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, and ease stress.

Reading improves your memory

There are a lot of things to remember when reading a book. You have to know the characters, their motivations, their history, their differences, the setting, the plot, the sub-plots, and so much more. It only stands to reason that having to remember all of that while reading will improve what you can remember in every other facet of your life.

Reading can improve your professional career

Reading and learning new skills can advance your career or even open up avenues for a different, better career.

How long should you read per day?

There have been studies performed to answer this question!


Reading 15 minutes a day provides accelerated reading gains. An analysis by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that students who read more scored better. 15 minutes was the ‘magic number’ that started to show great benefits.

Also, a study by Yale University discovered that readers who read for an average of 30 minutes a day lived about two years longer than non-readers.

Just about all of us are prone to be distracted easily. When your brain has to concentrate on a specific thing, such as a book, you are training yourself to remain focused. Spending 30 minutes a day reading will help improve your focus which will improve your daily life in every area!

Seeing how others structure sentences and introducing yourself to broader vocabularies will make what you write more pleasing to other people. It will also help you to develop as a more thorough writer.

This one is a no-brainer. There is a wealth of knowledge out there and a substantial amount of it can be learned for free. Spending just 30 minutes a day learning is a great benefit to anyone.

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What should I read to get the most out of it?

Some many books and topics are beneficial to different people.

Books by prolific people in your career lane

Reading books written by established and successful individuals that are in the same field as you are can help you to improve your career and advance quicker. Learning from those who have already been where you are and have succeeded is a great benefit.

Books that teach you a skill

Learning a new skill or strengthening an existing one is always a fruitful endeavor. Being more productive and being able to produce results quicker and more accurately is helpful in all areas.

Books that help you understand a subject

There are good reasons why books are the primary method of teaching used in schools and universities. Reading books that help you understand a subject better will always provide value to you.


While entertainment is important to enjoy at times, it’s not the key factor in our lives. Still, it is important to enjoy ourselves and give our brains a break. Find a genre that tickles your fancy and dive in!

Can I listen to an audiobook if I don’t have time to read?

Listening to audiobooks has become popular and there are many reasons why.

Audiobooks provide the benefit of being able to listen to them while driving, preparing meals, cleaning your house, getting ready in the morning, exercising, walking your dog, and many other activities that feature some downtime, but that you can’t focus solely on the act of reading.

Audiobooks add the element of someone telling you the story, rather than you reading the words. Some audiobooks feature full-on productions with music, sound effects, and multiple narrators. They lend the feel of being involved in the story and harken back to the times of radio theater!

Often there is a distinction in our brains between reading something and hearing something. When we listen to an audiobook, we could potentially process the information differently and pick up on subtext that we may have missed otherwise.

Services such as Audible, Kobo, and offer a wide range of selections for a monthly price. Audible also offers discounts on audiobooks for members of the service.

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