Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Open Space: Never neglect the written word

June 17, 2015 by Jayden Grieve, contributing writer

“Readership is at an all-time low.” These aren’t just words that editors and writers see in their nightmares: if we’re not careful, they could become the fate of our society.

So what’s going on with reading these days? A huge problem seems to be what people are reading. Different demographics are given different things to read, but that can really alter their perceptions of reading. For example, many young adults are better suited to Hemmingway than Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but they may never consider that because they are constantly handed the latter.

The same goes for adults who desperately claw their way through War and Peace just to say they have done it; decisions like that can make or break one’s relationship with literature.

This article originally appeared in our June 10, 2015 issue.

Our society’s stigma against being a quitter takes a large toll on reading, as well. Often what happens when people attempt to read books that they know they won’t really enjoy is that they refuse to read another book until they finish, because they’ll feel like a quitter if they stop. But the result is that the book they’re attempting to read just sits and collects dust because they detest it so, and that person’s reading in general ceases.

A word of advice: quit it. Just giving up the book allows you to read something much more enjoyable, thereby salvaging your book-reader relationship. It’s worth it.

Also, stop making excuses about being too busy: the sad fact is that folks all too often simply don’t force books to take precedence, so they are often put on the back burner when brought up against more “important” activities. It’s understandable: people have big, crazy, stressful lives, but reading provides a soothing way to relax. Reading 10 pages is not going to unbalance whatever else a person is doing.

The biggest injustice to our bibliographic friends, however, is sill television. Television is good, television is great, but TV killed the radio and it’s trying its best to off our good friend the book.

There are a lot of people who claim they would really, truly love to read more but just don’t have time. Yet these same people watch upwards of 10 hours of television a week.

People don’t have to read; it’s not like breathing or eating. But saying such things is an insult to paperbacks everywhere. It’s truly amazing what people can accomplish when they do touch that dial. Cutting back to, say, eight hours of TV would give a person two full hours of vocabulary- and imagination-expanding reading time.

Actually, I take it back: people do have to read in order to get the most out of life. So this summer, let’s be sure to set aside some time for the written word.

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