Judy is the winner of the Tell Tail Heart giveaway from Thursday! Judy, drop your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Washington Post reported last year that the number of American people who read for pleasure had fallen by more than 30 percent since 2004 (per a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). In that year about 28 percent of Americans 15 or older read for pleasure on any given day; in 2018 it had fallen to about 19 percent. More women read than men, although levels for both have fallen. And the number of adults who have not read any book in a year nearly tripled between 1978 and 2014, say the Pew Research Center and Gallup.
Where have all the readers gone?
For one thing, there are more choices open to people these days. Remember a world with no computers? When your music came on large flat plastic things and you had to have a special mechanical machine to hear the music? When television had only three or four channels, and those only if you lived in a major metropolitan area and got reception? (And your parents told you to stop sitting inside and reading a book and go out and play with friends?)
I learned to read earlier than I can remember. Now we Old Folk need glasses or cataract surgery to read a book. Thank goodness books have survived, although now sometimes they’re on a screen or plugged into your ears.
My family always read. My mother and grandmother leaned toward historical fiction, preferably with royalty (but not romance). My father stuck mainly to magazines (back in the day when there were many of them, like Look and Life), but there was always something to read at his house. When we used to rent a summer cottage at the Jersey Shore, there was usually a musty-smelling library tucked in a corner somewhere, I read some pretty odd things, along with the Nancy Drews I purchased with my allowance.
As a dinosaur, I hold on to the belief that reading (running your eyes over words and processing them in your brain) is not like all other “story-telling” functions. Listening to an audio book is not the same as reading the words.
But the fundamental principle holds: writers are still stringing together words meant to amuse or entertain or inform you—and to give you pleasure. It’s a fundamental communication, no matter what the format is. If you are reading this post, you are a friend. You are one of us. We’re glad to have you here, and we’re happy to share the stories we make up.
We write not to get rich or famous (that rarely happens), but because we enjoy creating worlds and characters in our imagination, and sharing those worlds with other people. In a world that is increasingly busy and complicated, we still seek to reach out and communicate with others, to share our vision.
Thank you for being here! And what is it that keeps you reading? Which format do you prefer?
Okay, just a small dose of shameless self promotion: