Did you know that a survey taken in 2001 revealed that over 40% of all Americans didn't read a single book that year. The statistics for last year aren't much better. I can't imagine not having a partially read book somewhere in my house. I always have at least one checked out from the library and an audio book on my ipod. Sometimes I even have an ebook open on my computer, especially if I'm reading for someone or critiquing. How can someone go through life without reading?
So, I'm wondering. Why should people read?
- To Gain Knowledge. I didn't go to college--couldn't afford it and was on my own at 18, so had to work full time to pay the rent. Everything I learned about writing came out of a book. I have an entire shelf devoted to books on writing, editing, publishing and English usage. Although I don't know everything there is to know about it--far from it--I know enough to pursue it as a career. I continue to learn through research on the internet and by going to writer's conferences and workshops.
- Improving Your Life. No, I'm not talking about self-help books, although some can be quite helpful. I'm talking about fiction, books on science or even books filled with works of art giving us a taste of culture. They all help us find ways to improve our lives.
- Awareness. Okay, so listening to CNN might give you some idea of what's going on in the world, but honestly, you're more likely to learn about the estate of Michael Jackson or if Brad and Angelina are adopting again. The knowledge you can find out about the world and what's happening can also be found in a book.
- Power and Influence. How can you change something if you don't know anything about it. Having the details of a particular subject can help you state your case when put in a situation when you have to stand up for yourself of someone else. If you know the facts, you're much more likely to be listened to and believed.
- Satisfaction without Embarrassment. I didn't read a lot when I was younger, so missed out on all the classics. I can't tell you how many times I've sat back and not been able to participate in a conversation when someone brought up an author I didn't know or a book I should have read. Having read those books would have given me the satisfaction of being able to contribute without being embarrassed that I had no idea what they were talking about.
- Changed Outlook. Books give us something to think about. Many times I've found myself rethinking the way I do things or the way I feel about a particular subject. Reading a book about someone else's blight in life can make you feel grateful for what you have.
So, now I realize that I might be preaching to the choir, that most of you probably read a lot. But maybe influencing others to do so is a start toward changing the statistics. We could volunteer to read in the schools, promote your local library or give great books for gifts. Imagine the world you could open up for a child if you gave them a stack of books instead of a video game or pair of designer jeans.
What's your opinion?