Cluttered Box

Reading like the Cool Kids

As a person who loves reading, I always find it surprising that some people go years on end without picking up a book. The truth is, finding a reader nowadays is almost as rare as getting discount at the cinema or finding a four-leaf clover. There aren’t that many of us out there, and the numbers are reducing every year. A startling report released by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project regarding young American’s reading habits stirred quite a debate online. The figures in the report show that on average, 8 in 10 Americans read one book a year. The statistic is based on readers between the age of 16-29 – an indication of the youth’s disinclination towards literature.

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Visually Driven Generation

An estimated 75% of individuals read one sole print book a year. Now this is hardly a surprising statistic, however is this one that we should portray as an achievement? Whatever reason has contributed to this depressing statistic, I think it is safe to say that the future belongs to a visually inclined generation, rather than the literature indulged, imagination-focused book geeks of previous decades. The internet has made it far too easy to engage in reading smaller bits of information in a quicker way – therefore reducing the need to pick up a book to read for pleasure.

One aspect to carefully consider is the rise of the e-book. I have begrudgingly accepted the fact that spine books are going out of fashion, nevertheless I refuse to invest in a kindle/tablet. The feel of holding a book, turning its pages, dog-earing your progress and placing a book on a shelf is unrivaled by that of holding a sleek, slim and light tablet. Despite my disapproval of this technological advancement, I think it maybe the only way of salvaging the future of literature and reading.

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The Rise of E-Books

Having been introduced over the period of the last 5-6 years, e-book readers have taken over the publishing industry and have served as an easy means of reading text. Their innovative designs and interactive tools enable readers to enhance their reading experience, therefore completely replacing the traditional print books. From the Amazon Kindle to Apple’s iPad series, it is no surprise that each manufacturer is going the extra mile to create a product that surpasses the previous in terms of optimizing each individual’s reading experience.

The philosophy behind these inventions is simple: why carry around a 1050-page Gone with the Wind when you can simply download it into your e-library? Your e-book readers are accessible to your whenever and wherever – with the presence of it in your bag being the ultimate indication that you are a cool kid. Irrespective of my issue with e-books, it is evident that they are here to stay, and are the sole hope for the future of books altogether.

What are your thoughts on the whole ‘one book a year’ situation? Are e-books the only way to re-engage people into reading?

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12 thoughts on “Reading like the Cool Kids

  1. As you already said the main source of information now is web based: small paragraphs rather than paper books. It may be much simpler to search for information in google than in thick volumes of an encyclopedia. But nothing can be compared to the charm of real books.
    What may conribute to “one book a year situation” is that reading needs active mental effort and in a overly stressed world less people are willing to make this effort. Many prefare the passive way of learning if they are interested in learning anything at all.

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    • Encyclopedia’s are almost non-existent in today’s day and age, we always turn to Wikipedia or the ever faithful Google for information. I won’t be surprised if a lot of people don’t even know how to use an Encyclopedia with an index!

      I agree with your point about reading being a passive motion rather than active. The hyper stressed environment has led to a zombified population that focuses on television and light entertainment rather than diving into a heavy book.

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  2. Those are some scary statistics.
    I also don’t like ebooks…at all. I love the feel and smell of books, flipping through the pages instead of pressing a button for the next page. Ink on paper for the win.

    It’s frustrating when people say they’ll wait for the film, instead of reading the book -_-
    My guess is that there’s a decline because there isn’t really anyone to instill a love of books into children at a young age. Who’s taking them to libraries? And the books at school don’t appeal to every student so they just assume books/reading is boring. And hey, there’s always television. So they grow up with that view.
    Sad sad sad.

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    • I completely agree with you Tasneem. Children aren’t encouraged to read book or visit libraries at all. Fortunately, my parents actively encouraged reading – my present for good grades at school was actually a trip to a bookstore – and I loved it. These days children are given games for their consoles or just money to blow on them – it isn’t fair to the kids or to the future generations!

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    • That may be something us readers have to look into. I actively encourage all my friends to read – lending books left right and centre (which I don’t always get back!) but the good thing is that it results in them picking up a book and reading it. I guess we have to make an effort to make people read, because those statistics are just plain sad!

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  3. I was stunned after reading this…only one book a year??? I agree with you that there’s no comparison in holding a book and taking it off a bookshelf to and ereader. But I splurged last year and got a kindle just cause I’ve run out of room to put my books. Even though I’ve got an ereader I’m still going to by books that I’d love. Like recently I’ve decided that I’m going to collect the classics in hardbacks. I still find that I’m getting less and less time to read a book but i still try to read as many as I can. I think taking a book everywhere with me really helps in reading more. But I do think that kids these days should really read more. There is just so much that they’re missing out. Loved the post! xoxo

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    • I am yet to invest in a kindle – I think that will be a bittersweet day. The fact of the matter is, kindle and tablets are the only way to salvage the future of reading – as bleak as it seems right now, there is still hope. I am glad you enjoyed this post 🙂

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  4. I find the one book a year statistic troubling yet not surprising. For years I’ve heard people say, “I hate reading!” when the topic of books comes up. My theory: unless kids start school with a preexisting love of books, their reading lessons often have the unintended consequence of teaching that reading is work, so books = lots of work. As for ereaders, I broke down and bought a Kindle Fire last year, solely for weight- and space-saving reasons for a trip to Korea. The flight was re-e-eally long! (Plus, I could put my music on it as well as a Korean-English dictionary app with pronunciation audio.) I think I’ll always prefer actual bound books, though.

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    • I completely agree with you. Reading has to be instilled into kids from a young age – otherwise they don’t learn to love it or make it into a habit. I think it is very important to read, and it shouldn’t be an option to just give up on it. Fair enough, it is a hobby for some people, but it should be a necessary thing we should all do. I’m not completely against electronic books, but my heart will always remain with bound books because I love the feel of it 🙂

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