Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Statistically Reading

I’ve seen the abysmal statistics regarding the number of people who read books. I say abysmal because the statistics always indicate the majority of us do not read books, especially men.

Recently, however, I saw a statistic suggesting the majority of us would like to write a book. Go figure.

I don’t doubt the statistics. At a craft fair in December, I sold thirty-four copies of my novel and the author I accompanied sold almost fifty books. But during the seven hour sale, a frequent response from potential customers to our offering was a wrinkling of the nose and the statement “I don’t read.”

As one of my friends commented, who admits they don’t read? It’s tantamount to confessing “I’ve stopped learning.”

Now some people at the fair said “I only read non-fiction” or “I only read the newspaper” (a dying breed). But they read.

Some said “I don’t have time to read.” Those are the ones I wanted to ask if they watched television, and, if so, what shows they watched. Lately I can’t find any shows more enticing than a book.

I’m married to a man who doesn’t read books. He reads magazines, articles on the Internet, and educational publications. Our son now reads books only as required for school assignments. Once in a while, he admits he enjoyed one. I hold an internal celebration when that happens. Our daughter, on the other hand, seems like she’ll be a lifelong book reader. Picture me cheering wildly.

It’s not nurture. We both read to our children. We encouraged purchasing books, trips to the library, and bedtime reading for years. Of course, the kids see me reading books, demonstrating the desired behavior regularly. So I’m thinking it must be nature.

I wish the statisticians were wrong, but even my husband has considered writing non-fiction books. So why is writing more attractive than reading? Is it the allure of the glamorous lifestyle?


Alan Orloff said...

Yes, it must be the glamorous lifestyle [looking down at sweats with a hole in the knee].

Interesting (and slightly depressing) post! Your friend is so right--who admits they don't read?? (I guess the kind of person who doesn't read!)

G.M. Malliet said...

It's the allure of being your own boss, and getting to wear sweats (or yoga pants) whenever you feel like it. That and a baseball cap that says "Writer" across the front in courier font.

I think people believe writers, all writers, make pots of money for doing nothing much all day, waking up at noon, mooching around the house and then scribbling off a chapter or two in spare moments before dashing off to take a meeting with Tom Cruise. Actually, that was yesterday. Today, I'm stuck at home watching the snow fall and knowing I'm out of excuses.

I simply don't understand people who don't read. When you think of the people who lived and died not being taught how to read, because it was a privilege for the me a chill just to think of it.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Sadly, since I've started writing, I've had less time to read, but I still cram it in. It's like breathing - can't imagine not doing it, even if it's only for 20 min a day.

I think a lot of people, especially those with desk jobs, think of reading as "work." They read all day and don't see it as entertainment. Some days, even I feel that way, but don't tell anyone. Fortunately, those days aren't the norm.

Unknown said...

You described my family so well, LOL! Honestly, my hubby, son and daughter are exactly the same. They also all see me reading almost every night. As long as the keep reading something, I'm happy. I can't believe people told you that they don't read! How boring - and scary.

Deborah Sharp said...

yep, the glamorous -- and you left out ''fabulously lucrative'' -- lifestyle must be it. Everybody wants to be a writer; nobody wants to read. Sad ....

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I hear that sometimes from people. And I'm usually like, "You don't have TIME to read? Or you just don't WANT to?" Because it really just boggles my mind!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Keith Raffel said...

Stephen King's formula for success as a writer: "Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can't expect to become a good writer."

Mike Dennis said...

Despite the "I don't read" types out there, we have to continue to read to our children when they're very young. By transporting them to faraway worlds at an impressionable age, we stoke forever in (most of) them the desire to read to themselves later on.

And by the way, can someone tell me why I have to sign up for a google account every single time I want to post a comment here? My password is never accepted, yet when I sign up for the new account, I enter the very same password and it IS accepted.