As basic as reading is, how much do we know about it? How and why exactly do people read?
How we Read
For starters, our eyes have 3 types of vision ranges: fovea or the area at the centre of the retina; parafovea, which expands 5 degrees on either side of a fixation; and periphery, which is everything else.
The peripheral vision is unclear and not detailed, but it picks up color and movement. Fovea however, picks up details well and is critical for reading. Most of what we understand clearly when reading, happens in the foveal area. Meanwhile, a letter or two on either side occurs in the parafoveal area.
We also use our working memory when reading. Research states that our working memory manages four distinct “chunks” at a time—a chunk being a bundle of information connected through some meaning.
Chunks are smaller for new or difficult material. Generally, your brain can only handle so much in a certain period, which means reading too fast leads to minimal comprehension. Pauses for comprehension take about 300 to 500 milliseconds on average.
Why we Love to Read
Most people can read but not many love doing it. Bookworms have an insatiable passion for one reason or another. Some pick up books for personal enlightenment, entertainment, or professional growth. Some read to beat boredom, while others to enhance their vocabulary and communication skills. And the list of reasons why people read just goes on (counseling aid, brain exercise, virtual travel, etc.).
To give you a more exact picture, here are statistics about why people read:
- 26% of those who read simply enjoy learning, gaining knowledge, and discovering information.
- 15% cited escaping reality, immersing themselves in another world, and being able to use their imagination as their reason for taking pleasure in reading.
- 12% said that reading has high entertainment value while noting the drama in good stories and the suspense of discovering how a plot unfolds.
- 12% equate reading to relaxation and finding their quiet time.
- 6% love the variety of topic books offer.