I love books, reading has saved me, and writing has provided me with a true sense of self after my career ended.
So imagine my surprise when I read (a communication) that ‘no one reads anymore’, it was as though the internet was saying ‘what is the actual point of you?’ I will not have it!
Our modern brains may not be as geared up to settle down with a lengthy novel, we have been raised on television and we have the internet and social media to fill our minds with. I presume that readers who are already ‘into’ reading are still novel lifting (I know I am).
In Dickensian times, folk had less time to read, People often worked six days a week for eighteen hours per day (thank you source). And really, it was only towards the end of the 19th century that literacy improved in Britain. Rich folk had all the tea to drink (see photo), but those lengthy classics that we see today were mostly serialised – even in Victorian times, readers were choosing an accessible medium.
Books are an essential tool to tap into if you are feeling under the weather mentally.
You may feel that you are unable to commit to reading a full novel, or most likely reading sounds off putting because you are struggling to concentrate.
Firstly, about concentration. Remember, reading is a solitary hobby. NO ONE IS MARKING YOU, You are under no obligation to give what you are reading your full attention. That may seem like an odd thing to say, but you are reading to relax, for fun, you deserve it… you will not be expected to write an essay about what you have read. Imagine the sense of achievement you will feel after finishing a book (even if that means ‘I gave it a try, and now I’m finished with it’). It is only natural to feel guilt for not finishing a book, but it is also freeing to let it go and have a look at another book (there are plenty to choose from). And if you can’t – no biggie, come back to it or try something else… But…
The benefits of escaping into another world are even more important now.
Don’t give up! The book on the side in your bedroom that is covered in dust? You will get to it eventually. Reading became difficult for me when both of my eyes (at different times) were affected by MS. With lighting, modern technology (Kindle) and a good old fashioned trip to the optician’s I can read as long as I don’t overdo it and look after my posture (I am on about my neck). I am breaking away from the sick role, if I can adapt and find a way to do something I want to do – I will.
You don’t have to commit to a lengthy novel. Again, no one is marking you, so it does not matter what you read. Reading is a very personal thing. People do recommend books to one another, but soon, you will be choosing your own. It does not have to be literary fiction.
You can always try audio books.
Go with the cover you like – that is fine people DO judge books by their covers.
There is no law that says you have to finish a book – even if you don’t like it.
I refuse to believe this hype about ‘people not reading anymore’. Stories are what makes us human, after all. The evidence is all around us, and as for me there IS a point and I will continue to write.
The following are links to reading evidence that springs to mind when I think about this subject.
Research finds reading books has surged in lockdown source The Guardian 2020.
BBC Radio 4 Book Club (running currently)
Nearly half of young people reading more in lockdown (Source: Penguin)
The Graham Norton Book Club on Audible
Between the Covers BBC2
Richard and Judy Book Club
Happy reading everyone, Samantha.
PS I wrote these books: