No Readers

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
Location
Cornwall, UK
This street survey makes for depressing reading:

We Asked Some People to Name Literally One Author

In 2018, Pew Research Center found that 24% of Americans said they hadn't read a book in any format—print, electronic or audio—in the previous year. There are some surprising statistics in their report, including that: Older Americans are a bit more likely than their younger counterparts not to have read a book. Some 28% of adults ages 50 and older have not read a book in the past year, compared with 20% of adults under 50.

Who doesn’t read books in America?

Another survey, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, revealed that Americans spend 16.8 minutes a day reading and 166.2 minutes watching television:

Americans Read an Average of 16.8 Minutes Per Day; Spend 166.2 Minutes Watching TV

Searching around, I couldn't find any statistics about how many words a day people read. I speculate that anyone connected to the internet might well read more words, even if they're not in book form, than someone did from the pre-computer age.

Book readers consume books in different ways these days, with audiobooks increasingly popular. Apparently, there was a 12% rise in audiobook downloads in 2017, according to this article:

Easy listening: the rise of the audiobook

It's good that people are still consuming books, albeit through earbuds, but once again, it's indicative of lost skills—the concentration, devotion of time and imagination it takes to read a book for yourself—so many things are done for people by devices in the name of convenience.

How long will it be, before books come in syringes that you can inject into your brain? :rolleyes:

For my own part, I get through about 300 novels and 75 non-fiction books a year, mainly on art, philosophy, psychology and local history—partly as research for my crime novels set in Cornwall. I read for two hours on most days. I've always bucked trends!

How about you?

Do your friends, acquaintances, work colleagues and family members read regularly?

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Seeing as reading for pleasure is closely correlated to academic achievement, it's something our school is taking seriously...hence a spanking new library plus librarian (me).

Encouraging reluctant readers is a paramount part of my role and a lot of it is through content provision (graphic novels. Manga, popular series fiction, getting books from publishers like Barrington Stoke etc.) but also through activities (Book Bingo, blogging, Accelerated Reader scheme, storytelling sessions, author visits...)

Catch 'em young!
 
"I once read a book" -- a true story

A friend many years ago remarked to me about a new partner:
"Tony said to me last week, 'I once read a book.'
"So I waited for him to say, 'It was a book about dogs, it was a whodunit, it was a James Bond book...' But no."

"No?"

"No. That was it."

However, they went on to be together for years, so clearly it wasn't a literary relationship.
 
Everything is about speed nowdays, Faster cars, faster email, etc. The faster we get the less time we have for slow stuff and reading is slow.
I find it odd that technology having speeded everything up has yet to give us more free time. Maybe it is because time is also moving faster!
 
The classroom of the future - plug in and synch up. We all read together!

I think it will be a long time before we get there. First, there will be a dark night of the soul in which people feel ashamed about how stupid their smartphone aided childhood and adulthood has made them. They will try to compensate by reading again and carrying around the status symbols of intelligence - books! Probably a decade away.

Plus, how do people react when a solar flare temporarily knocks out the power grid and all of the youtube videos disappear permanently - no backup for such trivial stuff? Yet for many people, it represents a historical record. Imagine history books which describe in words what happened in legacy (erased or compressed) youtube videos or websites.

On a brighter note, the poem: dark night of the soul (title) is lovely. Written by an imprisoned 16th century Spanish monk about a journey towards a deeper connection with God, it reads more like a woman meeting her lover for the first time.

Once in the dark of night,
Inflamed with love and yearning, I arose
(O coming of delight!)
And went, as no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose

All in the dark went right,
Down secret steps, disguised in other clothes,
(O coming of delight!)
In dark when no one knows,
When all my house lay long in deep repose.

And in the luck of night
In secret places where no other spied
I went without my sight
Without a light to guide
Except the heart that lit me from inside.

It guided me and shone
Surer than noonday sunlight over me,
And led me to the one
Whom only I could see
Deep in a place where only we could be.

O guiding dark of night!
O dark of night more darling than the dawn!
O night that can unite
A lover and loved one,
Lover and loved one moved in unison.

And on my flowering breast
Which I had kept for him and him alone
He slept as I caressed
And loved him for my own,
Breathing an air from redolent cedars blown.

And from the castle wall
The wind came down to winnow through his hair
Bidding his fingers fall,
Searing my throat with air
And all my senses were suspended there.

I stayed there to forget.
There on my lover, face to face, I lay.
All ended, and I let
My cares all fall away
Forgotten in the lilies on that day.
The sacred and profane: compare John Donne, Dean of St Paul's.


Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
 
Someone I've known for 15 years owns lots of books that he has never read, likes to carry a technical book around and not read it, has a PhD, and manages 60 people. The only book of fiction he has read in his life that he remembers reading was Lord of the Rings.
He once was a teenager - and then he specialized in technical stuff.
Reminds me of my mum. She was a compulsive book buyer but never got beyond admiring the covers. We had a house brimming over with books. She said they made her feel secure because her family couldn't afford them when she was a child. Worked out great for me and my sister though!
 
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