In college, I think many students feel overwhelmed by the amount of required reading they have to do for all their classes (particularly at a liberal arts college), so oftentimes they feel they have little time to read "for themselves", or, what they actually want to read. I know I felt this way. Come June, I was so burnt out from the school year, I generally took summers off from reading.
I'm not like that anymore. And it's crucial not to be.
A couple of different pieces brought this topic to my attention. First, LaShawn Barber (as many of you know, one of my favorites) asked her readers "How many books do you own"? as a light-hearted yet telling post as to where her regular readers stand. She lists her favorites, and many commenters do the same.
Sad to say, I haven't read much of what's on this post. And, since I now consider myself a "reader," I wonder how many other people out there haven't read Song of Solomon, The Screwtape Letters, The Old Man and the Sea, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (none of which I, a "reader", have read)...
The second reason I bring this topic up is Kathleen Parker's most recent column. Specifically, she cites the reduction in stand-alone book sections of newspapers as an indication that overall readership in the country has declined - people aren't reading books anymore. Given the similar decline in newspaper readership, Parker wonders why newspapers don't try to reach out to a dwindling reading audience:
"From a practical standpoint, it also makes no sense. Clue: People who read newspapers are also likely book readers. So why do newspaper editors and publishers think that killing one of the few features that readers might — big word here — READ is a smart move in an era of newspaper decline?"
For those of you who make the argument that Barnes and Noble and Borders are always packed when you're in there...well, that may be true. People may be buying the books, I suppose, but not reading them. Parker points us to a 2004 survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, which found the following:
- fewer than 1/2 of American adults read literature
- an overall decline of 10% in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, resulting in a loss of 20 million potential readers
- a decline among every single segment of the American population
- the rate of decline for the youngest adults (18 - 24...or, those eligible to be on The Real World) was 55 percent greater than that of the total adult population
These are scary statistics.
I'm curious if these statistics give weight to Ann Coulter's argument that "liberals don't read."
I'm currently reading The Fountainhead (and Atlas Shrugged turns 50 this week, by the way)- if you're not reading anything at the moment, why not?