Do People Still Read Books?

IMG_5720I always thought reading was a dying pastime. I saw it in my former students and the scant reading they objected to, always looking for a synthesized version written by someone who actually read the book, usually Cliff Notes.
It is not just that publishers are mostly progressive; the books printed are usually aimed at the liberal crowd who enjoys perusing for hours books they refuse to buy. It is much cheaper to drink an expensive cup of coffee and to occupy every available chair in the bookstore for hours while reading a favorite book or magazine for free or taking advantage of the unrestricted Wi-Fi.
Then there are electronic readers who make many books obsolete unless you are a dinosaur like me who loves to touch the photographs, the hard cover, turn the pages, smell the inimitable fragrance of a newly printed book, and highlight or underline memorable passages.
The few publishers who print conservative books choose their authors carefully from the ranks of famous people with name recognition, household names who hold influential positions in society or political office, people who are likely to make them money but do not necessarily make for an interesting read, are worthy of emulating, or have little else to add to the story of their time in office.
An ordinary American with an interesting and heroic story to tell manages to have a book published once in a while, either written alone or by a ghost writer. The book stores give them low billing on the bottom shelves, sometimes hidden from view on an obscure rack nobody is likely to check out.
The occasional science or history nerd, the serious reader, the child prodigy, the book worm, the liberal looking for that out of the galaxy self-help cool book, the computer geek, and children who play with toys and destroy books because their parents are too busy to supervise them can be found on any given day in our local bookstore.
The shelves are stacked with classics, history books, political and military books, travel books, children’s books, brain games, crossword puzzles, math puzzles, cards, knick-knacks, and many self-help books because liberals are always on a quest to find themselves and look up to some new guru who will tell them exactly how they feel and why they are still stuck in their parents’ basement, without a six figure job, and with a worthless degree in women’s studies, social justice, global warming, and basket weaving.
A random “man on the street” survey reveals that men like to spend money on electronic books while others prefer the audio CDs while driving.
Some find the silence disturbing, it is nicer to watch a movie and talk to someone else than read. Another guy refuses to read because cutting down entire forests to print books for libraries is outrageous – “Why cut down the forest and put it into a building?”
“I don’t have time for my own opinions, why would I have time or be interested in someone else’s point of view?” Life is too short, we must live in the moment, he added.
“I don’t read because I’m waiting for the movie to come out, it is much easier. Besides, I can’t read and eat popcorn at the same time and cannot replay a scene while holding my girlfriend in my arms.”
“We now have color television, computer games, Internet, megapixels, videos, and you want me to regress to the past and read something in black and white that I cannot replay or enlarge? It’s a waste of my time,” said another.
“I don’t have time to read. I can learn the same thing from songs and I can dance to it. Can you dance to books?” If I want to learn something, I can ask my friends. Or I can wait for the movie.
“Books limit my imagination. It is better to see a movie, see images, and it only takes two hours. A book takes a few months to a year to read. How can I imagine the words I read if I don’t know what they mean?”
While this “man on the street” survey was meant to entertain and perhaps contrived, I wonder what people on our streets would say when asked why they no longer read books?
Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2014

One thought on “Do People Still Read Books?

  1. Loved this! I think people don’t read because they have failed to pick up books worth reading. They’ve read just enough pop culture junk to think it isn’t worth their time. ESPECIALLY fiction and self help books. I’m currently into the autobiography of Golda Meir, titled My Life, written in 1975. It’s WONDERFUL. I found it among some old books in an antique store recently.

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