With the popularity of social media, a-click-away entertainment, and vanishing attention spans, comes the constant complaint that nobody reads anymore. And while it’s true that book sales are dwindling, this statement is false when it concerns reading in general. It is only correct when talking about people taking the time to sit down and read. People nowadays spend a lot of time reading, they just tend to read crap. The subtitles on the television, on the iPad in the baby’s hand while their mother is busy. The memes on Instagram, on Facebook. The quick online articles and overall availability for words. When compared to a past where television was obsolete and books the main form of entertainment, people today read more than ever. However, there’s less will power and less popularity in spending hours with a good book.
When I told a friend a week ago that I spend hours reading a novel before going to bed their response was, “Sounds like a good way to go to sleep!” And this seems a reflection of the general attitude towards books. The path in which books are headed; to be a thing of the past. In the 19th century the overall population was too busy surviving to have time to read and books were tailored with knowledge instead of dulled for a disinterested audience. Fast forward to the 1920s and 1930s where radio shows were popular and reading still prominent. Books started to change. Started to become more entertaining.
Families spent more time together, and people spent more time with books.
They also spent more time interacting without the internet or Netflix where words are available all the time, a chaotic mess. With reading, it’s apparent the issue is in the meat. There is little substance, apparent by what’s popular in the media as well as what’s selling in bookstores. People look to escape rather than learn if the learning is too hard and takes too much of their time. That smell of ancient crisp pages, being replaced with electronic words. People should not make the complaint that ‘nobody reads anymore.’ Instead it should be the question of, ‘how do we make substantial reading popular again?’