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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Do you read?

I went to a New Year's Eve party that involved a heated pool, a hot tub, and a bit of alcohol. And the major discussions revolved around philosophy, the best books ever written, and the state of the world. AND, all the participants were sober. These were not drunken rants.

I'm not sure what this says about the kind of parties I attend or the kind of people I socialize with, but I digress. My point in writing is that one of the girls at the party said that throughout high school and 3 years of college, she read only 3 books. In fact, she said she had finished only 3 books in her entire life (Brave New World, the Rats of Nimh, and I can't remember the 3rd). She is a smart, educated, fairly articulate human being. She just doesn't read.

Is this normal? And what I mean by that is--Is this non-reading a fact of life for the majority of people? If so, why? In her case, her aversion was somewhat understandable, as her dyslexia was not diagnosed until college, but still I wonder. Are we producing a generation of non-readers? Does that bode well for our thinking skills? It's already changing the way books are written (shorter books, shorter sentences, less character development, shorter paragraphs, etc.--compare Charles Dickens to any modern author on the NY Times Bestseller list and you'll see what I mean)

Books play a huge role in my life. I own hundreds. A conservative estimate is that I have 700 books on my shelves in my house. There are also several boxes of books in the garage. And to the best of my knowledge, I've read them all. Most weeks I read at least 3-4 books. Now I'll be the first to admit, that I read a lot of brain candy that I can skim. I usually do that in lieu of watching TV, but I read excellent fiction and non-fiction as well. That's played a huge role in rounding out my education and honing my writing skills. So again, I wonder:

Where does that leave us if we raise a generation that does not read?

2 comments:

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady" said...

How did this person get through university? Audio Cliff notes??? I LOVE books! I have two or three going at a time usually. I stand at Costco and put them in my basket, count, put a few back, throw a few back in, wonder why I have a library card, check out...

One of the first things we did for our grandchildren was buy books - LOTS of books - Kipper the Dog, Wibbley Pig, Richard Scarey, Priddy Board Books, Spot series - and they were red to from about 4 weeks old.

Books are friends who are always there. I love the Little House books to this day. Anne of Green Gables is a favorite. And English gothic romance as well as historical fiction are favs.

Long live the written word!

Carissa said...

Hey Khristy,
First off I must meet your very cool friends with the heated pool. We're reaching around 10 degrees tonight in St. Louis. I am very concerned about the generation of children coming up who have not been read to because their parents do not read. Most of the people in my circles live their lives around their TV schedules. In our house it's a big deal when you get your own library card. We have a line item in our budget each month just for books. Most of my friends don't understand my search for a Half Price Bookstore in the north and they haven't ever looked at amazon.com used. I'm proud of the fact that my children cry if they are not read to each and every single night. My 16 month old will chase me through the house with a book and is relentless until read to.
In our house we love Kevin Henkes' Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, Henry and Mudge, and Steven Kellogg's Jimmy and the Boa books.
I love Alexander McCall Smith's series of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency. I can always fall back on Maya Angelou's poetry, Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, and Shiloh.
I will not give up my reading for Survivor!