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Why People Read Less And Less

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Why People Read Less And Less

Post Number:#1  Postby Scott » 12 Nov 2007, 21:41

Why People Read Less And Less
by Scott Hughes

Polls keep showing that more and more people in today's world read less and less. Some recent polls estimated that about 25% of United States families did not read a book in the last year. I have even seen some studies put the number as high as 80%.

Many factors contribute to the lowering reading rates. I will list some of the most major ones.

Television - Though television may seem simple in comparison to more elaborate technology, it did not even become commercially available until the 1930s. Nowadays, you can find televisions all over the place. Almost every household in the developed world has one or more. Families eat dinner in front of them instead of at a table. Time put towards television has replaced time put towards sports, family games, study, and of course reading. The addictive television appeals to our laziness, sloth, and short-sightedness. Instead of stimulating our mind with books, we choose to rot our minds in front of a television. Ironically, in the long-term, the reader often feels more fulfilled and happy than the TV addict.

Faster-Paced Lifestyle - Our culture now centers around a constantly faster-paced lifestyle. People work longer hours and then rush through their stressful lives, with credit cards, fast-food, and speeding cars. When we do take a break for fun, we look for the impulsive thrills of drugs, alcohol or TV, rather than calmer, longer-running pleasures like reading.

Misplaced Values - We do not value education and intellectuality much anymore. Instead, we value entertainment and athletics. Perhaps it is because technology and development have eliminated a great deal of our need for intelligence. Perhaps we feel secure that our needs have been met and feel that we no longer need to work as a society towards major goals. As a result, we just want to lay back and gossip about Paris Hilton and cheer for our favorite sports team.

Whatever the reasons, most people in our society have given up on reading for the most part. If you don't already, I encourage you to consider reading more. Also, consider slowing your life down, giving up television, and reassessing your values. Consider giving up unhealthy and short-term pleasures like television for long-term pleasures like reading. In 5 years, will you wish you watched more television, or will you wish you read more?

Whatever you do, good luck and have fun!

About the Author: Scott Hughes owns and operates OnlineBookClub.org which is a website about books and reading. You can discuss books, reading, and related topics at the Book and Reading Forums. It's completely free to join and participate.

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Only partly right...

Post Number:#2  Postby Yame » 13 Nov 2007, 15:12

Scott what you say is true on the whole but not true in its specificity. Let's take TV for example which, in terms of information it can be unrivalled (why do books need to have a spine-value and thus so much padding?) and creative shows from CSI to 24 and The Shield which rival any book in storytelling intensity while sticking, obviously, to the tropes of the medium.

Life is faster than ever before but we always rise to the challenge and looking for a good book to retreat into is something more of us do than publishers think. Rather than looking at society would it not be more sensible to look at the state of the publishing industry? The domination of tje publishing industry by global conglomerates like Viacom has turned the publishing industry into a susage-factory process which needs to have sausages.

The odd, exquisite one may pop up by mistake but the majority are uniformly processed reader-fodder aimed at satisfying the gift-buying urge for the 'person who has everything' and not really explore new worlds, stretch our minds or challenge our views.

Now if some way could be found to bypass the publishing industry and create a more democratic forum for publising where a book sank or rose by merit of its quality judged by those whe read it, well, you may find that we have an entirely different story.
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Post Number:#3  Postby callalilly » 14 Nov 2007, 08:42

There was a time period for me for about 5 years where I maybe read one book a year if that. I just had a lot going on. I will give it to you in a nutshell. I was young (21), had a six month old baby and was two months pregnant with another. My abusive ex-husband had just left me and I had no college education, no money, a whole lot of debt, and I was miserable. I had no time to do anything fun for me. I moved near my parents and began working two jobs and going to school. No time!

A few years ago after I have my crap together, I thought to myself, "how come no one reads anymore?" I never hear about anyone reading and all the books I see look stupid. Well, I thought, I miss reading so I am going to start again and not care what other people think. The more and more I began to read and find books that I liked, I discovered that reading is NOT a lost art. I just didn't have a lot of people around me who did it.

Now I find a lot of things about reading that I never knew existed. I don't think it is a lost art, I just think no one does it as much. Erin
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Post Number:#4  Postby Scott » 14 Nov 2007, 12:57

callalilly, thanks for sharing your personal story. I'm so glad you got your life back in good order. I hope everything is great for you now. I'm 21 now, and babysitting my niece two days a week is hard enough. I couldn't imagine having one of my own (and being pregnant). Of course, working two jobs and going to school was the smart choice.

Thanks,
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Post Number:#5  Postby callalilly » 14 Nov 2007, 13:02

Thanks Scott. Everything is really great for me now. I just remarried this year and my kids are 5 and 4 now. I am graduating with my bachelors this spring and have a great job. And I read a ton! :) Thanks! Erin
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Post Number:#6  Postby awelker » 14 Nov 2007, 15:56

Congrats on everything Erin. It is good to hear that even though you went through some rough stuff you still got your life together. That is more than i can say for some of the people that i know. keep up the good work. what is your major?
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Post Number:#7  Postby callalilly » 14 Nov 2007, 16:59

My major is human services with a focus in victims survivor services. Right now I work with juvenile delinquents on a house arrest program.
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Post Number:#8  Postby awelker » 15 Nov 2007, 11:30

thats pretty cool. especially if it is something that you are really passionate about.
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Post Number:#9  Postby callalilly » 15 Nov 2007, 13:02

Thanks! I like juvenile delinquents. If you gave me "normal kids" I would probably kill them. lol I like the challenge, plus there is nothing they can get by with that I didn't invent the policy on when I was their age! :twisted:
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I read less because I stopped being curious

Post Number:#10  Postby grubeci » 10 Jun 2008, 17:50

I think society doesn't want people to be too well read and learned. Well, we are reading right now on this internet.
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Post Number:#11  Postby Abagayle » 21 Jun 2008, 11:44

What I see in people around my age is this rediculous instant gratification crap. What with texting and Myspace, who needs a book when you've got your own personal Gossip Girl-esque story to live? The time it takes to read a book, nevermind the time it takes to process a good book, is just a waste. Its sad to me that books seem to be soley school oriented and something to be frowned upon. Teachers, in my experience, have only served against the cause when they make reading great authors a chore and don't show their students all there is to be gained from a bunch of words bound together in a book.
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Post Number:#12  Postby Eric » 21 Jun 2008, 12:14

I think that video games have become the major pastime for teens, and even young adults. I'm working at a dormitory this summer and I've noticed almost everyone spending huge amounts of time playing video games. They come to my office all of the time to ask me to print off tips and codes for video games from the internet, but they never come to ask me to print off any useful information.

One of my best friends is a video game addict and it really annoys me. Instead of doing something fun when I hang out at his house, he wants to play Guitar Hero for several hours. Even worse, his two kids, aged 12 and 6, seem to have handheld video games glued to their hands.
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Post Number:#13  Postby Abagayle » 21 Jun 2008, 12:28

Well, agreed for sure. Personally I adore video games but I agree that people get eaten alive by them. To me, gaming is more of a social thing... think Halo and Rock Band, and less of a lifestyle. In moderation, its alright... Your comment helped me elaborate on my theory... I mean, look; instead of taking the time to read and create our own fantasy worlds, we just go out and buy one. Books will always beat video games, for sure.
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Post Number:#14  Postby blue_doona32 » 24 Jun 2008, 20:19

Its a sad statement. People don't read as much as they used to. Excuses like work and too much to do in the day is wrong. Taking a few minutes off in the day is not as hard as people make it seem. But that's just me, and since I don't have a job, its probably just easier to be ignorant in my own little world.

Its hard being a book lover in today's world. We're a dying breed, but fortunatly, its never too late to start. I'm not talking about reading 20 books a month, but people should realize the value of other people's thoughts and the value of a simple book. I'm glad my father read to me when I was very young. He was the guide that lead me to the inspiration I found in books. Many younger kids don't have imaginations because they have all they could want from TV. When people ask me where I get ideas and inspiration from, its usually always from a book I read in the past.

I'm also sad to say that I am part of my high school's book club (technically a nerdy thing in any generation, by anyone's standards, but I could care less), and people just gawk at the kind of books I do read, or how fast I read them. Its nothing acomplishing (that I'm an avid reader), but its because they don't realize that books are like air to me. I'm dissappointed in the youth of today because older people keep saying we are the future. Quite frankly, that scares me. Kids these days have no idea who people like Plato, Steinbeck, Dante, Socrates, Salinger, and so many more wonderful authors are, and they could care less. Its a frightening idea to behold.

I pity those who are governed by children from my generation.
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Post Number:#15  Postby Pappy » 25 Jun 2008, 03:38

While I fly a couple of times a month, most of the time I'm in an office doing some pretty hectic work (it's the only place, I think, where flying - which is your main job - makes people upset because you won't be in your office to do your secondary job) and it's impossible to read there. It really is. Superiors see you with a book and say you have free time, you have to or you wouldn't be reading. But if you're online you could be researching something or another. That's how I read "Survivor" at work. Anyway, at the beginning of the year I went on my first deployment and read eight books in about two months and was pleased with the progress. I tried to bring that pace home with me but couldn't. Being a family man prevents such dedication to books. But I'm still reading and usually I do a lot of it when I fly. I have two books in my fly bag in case I finish the one I'm reading at the time and I'm about halfway trough Slaughterhouse-Five and then there's a Bryson book.

My friends don't read, my parents and brother don't read, my co-workers don't read. Reading is a) expensive and b) time consuming. But when you think about how much time you put toward reading vs. the cost (if you strip it to per hour division anyway) it isn't that bad. I don't get it, myself. Great books are out there, still being written so why not try to read them?
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