Before reading this post, I’d like you to answer three questions, in the comments section if you would, but at least in your head.
- Is there a book that you have been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to reading?
- What book is it?
- What has kept you from reading it?
Some of us read so that we not feel alone. Some read for other reasons. But how many of us simply read because of the pleasure it affords?
According to a recently released study from the Pew Research Center, 26% of Americans did not read one single book in the 12 months preceding the study.
My mistrust of polls and statistics is well documented and this recent election cycle has not remedied that.
But even though that figure seems like it is probably right, how high would the percentage go if we excluded those who only read a book because it was assigned or otherwise required of them? That is, how many of us read a book simply for the pleasure of doing so?
When I was a kid, I’d plunder the local library. How many of us still do such a thing? If, as I expect, the answer is few, I want to know why.
Is it possible that we have educated the love of reading from among us? The stats say that the more education, the more likely it is that one has read a book. But it is possible that the books the educated continue to read are those assigned or demanded of their profession, not those chosen? My experience with students AND academics is that many have given up reading for fun. Years of forced reading has squashed the love of reading. It has all become so serious.
We who were once kids carting books home from the library to feed our imagination have been reduced to grownups who lug books around to fulfill our obligations. That part of our heart that resonated with wonder and adventure, if not as well human empathy, dies in that transformation.
Believing that embers of that wonder yet remain, I am issuing a challenge to all who will join me in a small act of rebellion against the stats. Read one book that you want to read in 2017. There is a caveat here: to qualify, the book must be one that you want to read for the mere pleasure of reading. Books that will help you professionally, self-help books, books directly related to your career, and books assigned for a class do not count. Be a kid again and find a book that you just want to read. Just because.
I know there are more substantive causes you could join, more significant acts of rebellion in which you might engage. But there might be more value in this one than you can imagine. So, do it. Do it if you even need to stop reading your favorite blog (this one, of course) to do so.
Do it. Do it to wreck the stats, sure.
But most importantly, do it for fun and the rekindling of wonder.