These days it seems we’re bombarded with ever-growing volumes of content – from ads almost everywhere you look – to an almost unlimited resource in the World Wide Web. So why is it we as a society are reading less and less? Are there too many other technological distractions perhaps? Most of us seem to have a screen of some sort in front of our faces for far too many hours of the day, so reading in general, and books in particular are getting the short end of the stick attention-wise…
Case in point, according to the Washington Post one in four Americans won’t read a single book in a given year. The good news is that those of us who are ‘ravenous readers’ consume an average of fifteen books a year, while the typical person claims to read about four books in a year (half read more, half read less). Some more facts I uncovered about American reading habits – of the 75% who do read that is:
- women tend to read more than men (nine books to five annually)
- those with college degrees read the most
- people aged fifty and over read more than those who are younger
- Democrats and liberals typically read slightly more than Republicans and conservatives
Growing up, my father tended to read the newspaper and business magazines (the peruser), while my mother read books at a pretty good clip (the absorber). I’ve always enjoyed reading – everything from periodicals to a wide variety of books (fiction, biography, history, baseball, etc.) – kind of a combination of both my parents preferences.
About fifteen years ago, I went on a campaign to get both my father and father-in-law on the book-reading band wagon. Knowing that they liked to read content in short bursts (both being perusers), I urged them to read the first Spenser novel by the late Robert B. Parker. Parker’s prose is spare without a lot of lengthy (and often unneeded) descriptive text, but he packs a lot into his dialogue-driven approach. They were enamored, and have read every one of his, and now many other authors’, books.
Books and the time one must dedicate to them are kind of like relationships. Some are positive experiences, some negative – but you shouldn’t give up. Those who say they don’t like reading probably just haven’t found what appeals to them – you just need to find the right fit. And get away from all those screens once in a while too.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a book I’m dying to read…