you can lead an adult to the library but you can’t make them read

Today on and I noticed the same item about the abysmal reading habits of adult American based on a recent survey. I could start throwing out all sorts of comments about the (reading) habits of others but in the end each of us have to make our own choices including how we fill our time if not our minds.

So I’ll talk about me instead. I consider myself very lucky that I enjoy reading. My parents were not literati but for some reason they pushed my sister and I to enrich our minds thru reading. Among my earliest memories are newspapers, magazine and books. I don’ t think it was luck that I now read dozens of books a year. In my case there was also one major factor that helped me focus on books as soon as I was able to read – our family didn’t own a television until around the time I was in the second grade. I seriously doubt that type of environment occurs these days. (When my wife and I decided to cancel cable TV several years ago our reading pace picked up quite a bit, once again I don’t think it was a coincidence nor does it take a scientist to understand why)

Someone in the article complained about fiction, preferring instead to watch a movie than read a book. Their loss.


About Marcus

Who me? Introverted, neurotic, self-absorbed, increasingly cynical observer of human nature and part time social critic in hiding. Most of my life spent avoiding growing up. The naive idealistic passions of youth have evolved into the eclectic eccentricities of adulthood. Northeast Florida small-town native, related to people I can't relate to. Simultaneously my own best friend and worst enemy. Politically and spiritually unaffiliated, my personal ideologies put me all over the map or off it completely.
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3 Responses to you can lead an adult to the library but you can’t make them read

  1. I honestly can’t imagine not reading. I was given a library card early on, with parental permission to take out ANY books I wanted from the library, even from the “grown-up” shelves. So I read piles of books all summer long as a kid. I never lost the passion, but early child-rearing years kept me away from it for a little while.
    We have hundreds of books in our home, and our two boys were read to and encouraged to read from the get-go. They seem to go through phases, getting a bit “turned off” by all the stuff they’re forced to read in high school. But my 22 yr. old has rediscovered pleasure reading, so I’m not too worried about their temporary lapses.
    I set my goal for this year at a 2/month pace, and I’m delighted to be ahead of myself so far.

  2. cwmackowski says:

    Another thought-provoking post. Thanks.
    Like you, I feel myself fortunate that I enjoy reading. I feel even more blessed that I know how to read–something most people I know take for granted but something that’s a severe handicap to more adults than most readers imagine. But as Twain observed, the person who doesn’t read has no advantage over the person who can’t.
    As a guy who makes his living writing and teaching writing, it disheartens me that more people don’t read more stuff.

  3. n_decisive says:

    There was an itty-bitty public library behind the fire station in our community. It couldn’t have been much bigger than your average kids’ bedroom, but I loved going there. I was no end of happy on the days when I could spend 3 or 4 hours at the “big” library in town while others shopped. I would have lived there if I could have.
    We had TV when I was growing up, but there wasn’t a lot that interested me except for mysteries and dramas that were on too late for me to stay up for. Books were available on demand. When I couldn’t go to the library, I’d find something on my grandparents’ shelves and read it. To this day, I wonder if many people who loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle knew that the author wrote the American Classic, “The Egg and I.”
    My favorite English teacher had two phrases he liked to bandy about: “No brain candy,” and, “No spoon-feeding.” When I read the last line of your entry, I wanted to yell those things at the movie-over-books person, because generally, it’s a desire for easily digested, think-free entertainment that causes someone to say that.

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