As an avid and voracious reader this statistic, from the Pew Research Center, that 26% of American adults have not read even a part of a book in the past year just blows my mind. Are you part of the 26%, or the 74%? Do you read books?
I DO know people who don’t typically read books. One of my best friends; I’ve never seen him with a book in his hands, or tell me about a book he has read. I’ve gifted him a couple of books and he’s never indicated if he has read them or not. I know he reads. He reads newspapers, magazines, online articles and such. But I can’t recall ever seeing or knowing about him reading a book.
My late father quit school after the 8th grade and though he was not illiterate by any means, reading was difficult for him. It may have had more to do with his eyesight than anything else and by the time he was old enough to obtain the kind of glasses he needed to see clearly, he was no longer in school being taught how to read. When I was 2 to 4 years old I would climb up into his lap at the breakfast table (especially on Sunday mornings) and he would read the comic strips to me. Around the time I was 4 to 5 he stopped and my mom told me later in life it was because I was reading the comic strips faster than he was and correcting him when he misread or mispronounced a word. It embarrassed him. I have always regretted that, though of course at the time in my young mind I was just showing my father how good I was doing and looking for his praise. It was never, ever meant to embarrass him. Throughout his life I saw him read newspapers and magazines, but I can’t recall ever seeing him read a book.
The article goes on to state that science seems to support the finding that reading books is good for you on several levels. Such as:
Reading fiction can help you be more open-minded and creative – Getting into the minds of other people through stories about them makes it possible for you to broaden your own mind and thought processes and realize that there are things you never considered that are indeed possible.
People who read books live longer – I like that scientific conclusion! And the reasons seem valid.
Reading 50 books a year is something you can actually accomplish – One of my favorite things about Goodreads is the annual reading challenge. You take part in it by setting a goal of how many books you want to read in the upcoming year and then track them throughout the year. This was something I had never done before; track the number of books I read. Since taking part in this for the past 5 full years (2011 was a partial year because I started late in the year and of course, 2018 is not complete yet) my most prodigious year was 2014 when I read 58 books. My least was in 2012 when I read 22 books. Thus far this year I have read 14 books. All of that to say I agree that you CAN read a book a week if you wish, but even if you read a book a month you’ve made quite an accomplishment.
Successful people are book readers – For this, I would say it depends on your definition of success. I do like to see what people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, and Barack Obama are reading and recommending, but I also search for the types of books that I feel will touch me where I am in my life right now and where I want to go in the future. Personal success is just as, if not more, important than what the world considers successful.
So, what is the secret to getting adults to read books? I’m not a professional in this field by any means, but most likely it is to ignite that love of reading in them when they are children. Especially if you can find WHAT they like reading about so that they WANT to read. I don’t think you can force a child (or adult) to read, especially if they have some condition (like dyslexia) that makes it incredibly hard, but if you can find something that they want to read about, I think you have a better chance of sparking a love for reading in general.
Are you part of the 26%, or the 74%? Do you read books?