Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reading About Reading . . .

Time to clean up the Draft file again.  I found three articles/ideas I had planned to make into complete posts, but can't think of enough to say about any of them, so I'll just share them here in brief.

Who Reads Books?

According to an article on Mental Floss, which got it's statistics from a 2003 survey conducted by a company called The Jenkins Group, readers are a dying breed.  Here are the figures they quoted:

• One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
• 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.>
• 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
• 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
• 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

If these numbers are even close to realistic, I'm stunned! 80% of families did not read a book last year?  I understand that shopping online has drastically cut the number of people who set foot inside a physical bookstore, but at least they're reading. And I understand books not being completed.  I give up on a few each year myself - my motto: "Life's too short to read bad books."  Or I check books out of the library and then get busy with other things and don't get them read so they go back unread.  But a life without reading? - that I can not fathom!

Reading Prejudices

I don't remember where I read this article, so my apologies to whoever I'm plagiarizing. The question of the article was "Do you have reading prejudices?"  Are there genres, authors, settings, subjects, etc. that are deal-breakers for you?  I'm sure we can all say yes to the genres and authors.  In general, I'm not a science-fiction fan, though I have read some good science-fiction titles over the years.  I like a good Louis L'Amour western, but I don't normally browse the Western section of the book store.  And of course there are authors whose books I have read and disliked, so haven't tried any more.

But what about settings and subjects?  My first response was "No, I'm a pretty open-minded reader.  I don't rule out specific topics or places."  But not long after, I caught myself dismissing two bestsellers for just those reasons.
THE SHADOW PATROL, by Alex Berenson.   The former C.I.A. operative John Wells returns to Afghanistan to pursue a possible leak from the C.I.A. station. 
I love a good thriller, but not interested in anything about Afghanistan or the CIA.
SONOMA ROSE, by Jennifer Chiaverini.  A California woman fleeing an abusive husband hides with a former lover in Sonoma County, where winemakers struggle under Prohibition.
"Abusive husband", "prohibition" - Two words/phrases that kept me from even slowing down to look further.
Now that I've discovered some of my reading prejudices, I'm not sure what I'll do about them.  Is it ok to have certain topics/places you don't want to read about?  Is ignoring an entire genre acceptable? Should we try to break them, or just accept them and move on? What are your reading prejudices?

Reading Fiction Helps Your Career

An article on Ragan's PR Daily quotes an article from Scientific American which claims that reading fiction makes business sense.  
1. Reading stories can fine-tune your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings. 
2. Entering imagined worlds builds empathy and improves your ability to take another person’s point of view. 
3. A love affair with narrative may gradually alter your personality—in some cases, making you more open to new experiences and more socially aware. 
So if you're job-searching, tell them you're a reader.  If you're interviewing, ask about their reading practices.  That's all - just thought it was interesting.


  1. This was very interesting to read, Tami. I too found it surprising about the 80% of families and even the percentage of college students that don't read a book after graduation. I have to say since blogging I'm definitely doing less reading, but I am trying to make it a point to at least read a book or two a month. That's why I signed up to do book reviews, kind of "forces" me to "have" to read.

    very interesting indeed!


  2. I have two reading prejudices- I just don't want to read and zombies or vampires! Having said that, I'm quite happy with the comedy vampires in Terry Pratchett's work- guess that's a bit different though.

  3. Those stats in the first article are frightening!!

  4. I was completely gobsmacked when I became a teacher and found out that most of the people who were in the profession with me didn't really care too much for it. [head still shaking]

  5. I just wrote a post on Quirky Girls Read this past week about my reading slump and how I went a LOOOONG time without picking up a book. Years. This was after college. I'm telling you, I had to read so many things for four years that when I didn't have to any more, I chose not to. So I can totally see why a large percentage of grads never go back to reading. I'm a book lover, have been all my life, and I gave it up after an aggressive college education. If a college kid didn't like reading to begin with, I doubt they'd ever want to see a book again after graduation. Force-fed reading kills the reading soul...