I never cease to be astonished when people tell me they don’t like to read. I just don’t get it. There are so many amazing books out there! So many styles, genres, and subgenres. You’d think there would be something that would appeal to them. To me, there is no greater joy than curling up with a cup of coffee or a chai tea latte on a rainy afternoon with a great book. My mother teaches English and Literature, and she hates reading. Can you believe it? I never could. She reads the Cliffs Notes. Occasionally she’ll read an actual book, but it’s rare. To me, not reading is like not listening to music. Or not liking chocolate. How do you get through life without reading?
Everywhere I go, I have a book with me. Usually more than one. I keep one in my purse, I have a Kindle app on my phone, and just in case I’m still caught book-less, I have a copy of Dante’s Inferno in my trunk (I just can’t bring myself to take it out, you never know when you’ll need a book!). I pull my book out constantly. At lunch, at the mechanic, at the doctor, in traffic jams, or just waiting for my husband to get off the phone. For really good books, I literally read every chance I get. My husband gets frustrated when we’re at dinner and he returns from the bathroom to find my nose in a book. When he’s out of town I read during every meal. We were at a good friend’s wedding this weekend and my husband was an usher, so I sat on the back row reading until time for the wedding to start. He couldn’t believe it, but what was I supposed to do? Stare at the chairs in front of me? (Coincidentally, that same friend is someone who doesn’t read, which prompted this post).
I would rather read than watch tv, or movies, or do much else really. Don’t get me wrong, there are some shows and movies that I absolutely love, but it always feels lazy to me. Like someone else is doing all of the work. I like imagining how people sound or how they look. It’s one reason I hate books on tape (or cd/mp3 nowadays). I hate for someone else to read to me. I can’t hear the character’s voice, I can’t let my imagination really play and fill in the gaps. Which makes me wonder: do people who don’t like to read lack imagination? Do they need someone else to create for them?
Maybe that’s it. I myself have an overactive imagination. It’s one of the reasons I like to write. There’s so much going on in my head that needs to be set free. Perhaps they don’t have the imagination to read? Or they claim not to have the time (which is just silly, I’ve already proven there are tons of opportunities!) Or maybe they lack the attention span? In today’s generation people have to be constantly entertained, do they find books too boring?
Like my mother, my sister doesn’t like to read. Every one in a while she’ll finish a book. When she does read, she only picks up books that are close to reality. Give her fantasy or something science fiction-y (even Harry Potter) and she’ll turn up her nose. In her case, I can definitively state it’s because she lacks imagination. Once, when she was five or six, I tried to pretend with her. We sat on this rug with a picture of a house and I pretended it was a real house. She absolutely wouldn’t budge and maintained that it was a stupid game because it was a rug not a house. I might add I’m fifteen years older, so I was about twenty at the time. Twenty years old and I had more imagination than a five year old.
What do you think? Why don’t people like to read? Lack of time, imagination, or energy? Something different altogether? Or have they just not found the right book yet?