Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What is wrong with people?

I am surprised, nay -- horrified -- that most people simply don't read. A recent poll noted that:

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year - half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

How? How can these people survive? How can it be considered "normal" not to read books? (Or to read only FOUR in a year? Four? In a good week, I'll read at least that.

I am deeply, deeply suspicious of people who do not read. Oh, I understand that kids at home, busy jobs, etc, mean tha tyou don't have a lot of time to delve into that paperback novel sitting on the coffee table, but not to read at all? How is that possible?

I'm a serious bibliophile -- the Adorable Husband jokes that he can't leave me alone in the car without reading material, or I'll pull up the floormats looking for a new label I haven't read yet. I don't go anywhere without a book, just in case. Life has gotten busier lately, but I still read through a few books a week -- from fiction to reference books to whatever.

The internet, iPods, video games, and television bear the brunt of the blame for no reading, but that's really a crock, if you ask me. The most common reason? "Not enough time". Well, I'm sorry, I don't buy that. I fyou want to read, there's always time you can eke out from your day (I mean, really, you never go to the bathroom?) I think it's simply that many people don't want to have to expend any effort at all to be entertained. Reading a novel requires that you commit to the story, that you immerse yourself in the flow of the words and rev up your imagination; reading non-fiction requires that you at least engage your brain to process things. So many people want to sit back, passively, and just be amused by whatever. At least some poeple try to "explain away" the bizarre results by claiming that people do read, of course, they just read stuff on the internet, like news sites and other stuff. Maybe, but that doesn't replace reading a BOOK (whether physical or virtual). Reading a paragraph summary of the news isn't even reading -- that's the equivealent of reading the headlines scrolling across the bottom of the CNN screen.

It's rather frightening, actually, and I will freely admit to judging people who do not read as stupid, uninformed, and uninterested. If you can't be bothered to invest time in a good book, how am I to believe that you spend any time at all trying to educate yourself? It's not a fair assessment, I'll also admit; but if you simply cannot fit reading into your schedule, at least express regret about the loss! Those people who shrug and laugh and say they simply aren't interested in reading, or "it just makes me sleepy", as one respondent said...well, I don't even know what to say. I'm just flabbergasted.

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