Monday, June 11, 2007

Just Pick Up a Damn Book Already!

While perusing my usual blog roll (something I'm very behind in these days because I'm so busy), I came upon Eileen Cook's wonderful post which noted the alarming statistics about how few people read books these days. I mean, 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school????? Can these stats be right???

So, in light of her plea on her blog, I'm posting about the alarming dearth of reading going on in our country these days. What do you guys think is causing it? Beyond the obvious problems in our education system - I mean, these stats note that these are LITERATE people who are choosing to ignore books - I'll say that there are a few factors at work.

1) The internet (and I guess video games, though I don't really have any personal experience with them). There are stats out there (which I'm too lazy to google) which show that people now spend hours in front of their computers, even taking away from the time they spend in front of the tv. If the tv usurps time from books, I can't even imagine how much time the internet sucks away. And hey, I'm just as guilty as this as anyone. Last night, I was mindlessly surfing - just to zone out - rather than get into bed and read The Time-Travelers Wife, which I'm working my way through right now. Why? Because reading doesn't allow my brain to turn off...and that's a GOOD thing, but in our society, we like to vegetate, and reading just doesn't allow for it.

2) Reading takes work and cost money. True, to go to the movies these days, it can cost waaaaay more than a book, but people don't seem to see it this way. Shell out $20 for a book that might be difficult to get through or cause you to actually use your brain? No dice.

3) We're a lazy society. (See points above.)

I'm sure that there are a gajillion other reasons that people don't like to read, starting with the fact that parents don't emphasize it to their children, so people don't grow up as readers, which they then don't pass on to their own children, etc, etc, etc. But what say you? Why don't people enjoy reading and what can be done about it?

Well, for an initial solution, head over to the lovely Larramie's blog today and see what some authors (yours truly included) are recommending for summer reading...


Larramie said...

Thank you, Allison, for your recommendations as well as the plug, I'm getting some shocked comments...after all, since we read, doesn't everyone?

The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my all-time favorites and will (supposedly) be out as a movie next year. Please, though, read the book first! ;o)

P.S. Give a book for Father's Day!

Anonymous said...

That's just so sad. Honestly, i have no idea what I'd do if people all of a sudden stopped publishing new books! I love books, always have and always will. There's a lot more I get from books that somehow the internet doesn't manage to. There's no comparison of cuddling up on a couch corner with a great book to sittng upright at a desk and reading an ebook.

I've already picked out my Summer reading list, will head to check out what you've suggested! Thanks! :)

Amie Stuart said...

My youngest son who is ADD is an AVID reader (there's no middle ground for him--it's all or nothing) while my oldest would rather zone out on teh net or play video games.

Funny thing though, recently my dad called me from the airport in Spokane and asked me for a book rec (like I should know all the good stuff since I"m a writer LOL but I gave him a few). Anyway he picked up this one author and really liked his book, so I think I might pick up a few from his backlist for father's day (thank you Larramie).

Anonymous said...

I think for kids, the internet and video games are part of it. And some kids are so overscheduled with soccer, dance, and the like that they hardly have time to do their homework, much less read for the joy of reading.

My nine-year-old nephew surprises me sometimes though. He is a reluctant reader, but once he gets into something, he is totally into it. Like Mad Libs. I gave him some Mad Libs Junior books and he looked crestfallen - but then when he got the hang of it, he was howling with laughter and wanted to read his stories to his friends. And I think he's read all of the Captain Underpants books. And when he and I were deciding on a movie to see, he requested "Charlotte's Web" because his class had read it at school.

My favorite thing, however, is when he called out to me: "Hey Auntie! Wanna read Charlie Brown books?" He had discovered my brother's stash and we read them together silently, stopping only to share the funniest ones. Now when he visits and we have reading time at night, we read them again - aloud, where he reads the boys' lines and I read the girls'.

WordVixen said...

Hubby and I are total opposites on the reading spectrum. I can't get enough of reading- often to the detriment of my writing. Hubby can't stand reading and thinks J.K. Rowling is a "terrible" writer because he sees plot holes in the movies.

He did try reading House (Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker) and loved it right up until the end. But the ending disappointed him, and now he won't read any more by either of them. That's the only book he's read in years.

My father used to be the same way, but he started reading a few years ago (he's 66). So there is hope.

Julie said...

I hate to say it but the future doesn't look bright. Lazy parents = video games = kids don't read much.

I'm a very mean mom --- no video games and books clutter every room in the house. It's working so far.
Beltway Mom- blogspot

Eileen said...

I pulled the stats off a publishing site and they scared the pants off of me. Who doesn't read? Yeesh.

Trish Ryan said...

We shouldn't lose hope - I bet many of those people have never had another adult suggest that they might enjoy reading, or explain why they would recommend a certain book or books.

My hubby wasn't a reader at all when we met, but he couldn't get over how happy books made me (or that I'd really rather have a B&N gift card for Christmas than something sparkly in a little velvet box). But we've found some authors he likes, and now he's a huge fan. So maybe we readers need to go out and befriend the people in that 58% and we can turn this boat around :)

Trish said...

Wordvixen, I'm so sorry your hubby tried HOUSE. What a terrible, terrible book and I'm a diehard Peretti fan (have not read much of Dekker, however). Tell him EVERYONE hated that book so he's not alone. Although I don't have any recs for you because my hubby is reading business books and I haven't seen him read a novel in a few months.

Trish Lawrence

WordVixen said...

Trish- I'm not familiar with Dekker either, but loved Peretti growing up. It's a shame that the ending is what ruined it for him since instead of being disappointed and maybe willing to try another book at another time, he felt cheated. Now it's harder to get him to invest the time involved in books. Since I didn't read it, it's nice to know that it's not just him- it was the book. Thank you.

He's read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as a handful of Star Wars novels, so he might try something else down the road. I think we've lost him with Peretti and Dekker though.