Glad to See You Here

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Judy is the winner of the Tell Tail Heart giveaway from Thursday! Judy, drop your address to 

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:

Digging up History, the eighth Museum Mystery, was released on June 25th, and . . .
Killer in the Carriage House, the second Victorian Village Mystery, will be released on July 9th Enjoy!

14 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on the new books, Sheila. Me? I’m reading Digging up History! I love your Museum mysteries and am glad the series continue. I am reading it my kindle, though. ;^)

  2. I just finished Digging up History and enjoyed it, I love the museum series and I am so happy it is continuing, I love history and mysteries so combining them is the jackpot for me. I love to read to relax, I am also a dinosaur, I gave up my TV ten years ago so reading is my thing.

  3. Congrats on the books, Sheila!

    For me, it was my dad who got me hooked on reading–early. Mom was never much of a reader; I credit Dad for pushing me to stretch my abilities and why I was reading way above my grade level from a very early age.

    I’m format-agnostic, although I haven’t done a lot of audio books. Space is limited, so I buy books from the authors I love, the rest are ebooks. I’m also queen of the 99-cent ebook deal. It’s a great way to be introduced to new authors at a very low risk-point from a money perspective.

  4. Love this, Sheila! It always makes me sad when someone says I don’t read. It was great to meet so many school librarians at ALA last weekend who are encouraging new generations of readers. Mom’s copy of Digging Up History. arrived a couple of days ago. I can’t wait to read it!

  5. My family were always readers. I have somewhere a photo of all of us at the beach, three generations with books in their laps. My kids and their spouses are readers, too. We all enjoy other forms of entertainment as well. I am a big TV watcher. But for relaxation, nothing beats a book.

  6. I’ve always loved reading even though my mother was always yelling at me to quit wasting time with my nose in a book. I love paperbacks because they are lightweight and easy to flip back through. However my iPad overflowed. And I can’t drive anywhere without an audio book playing. I very ecumenical.

  7. I often wonder about these studies/stats. While praising your family’s reading, you said your father preferred magazines. That means, he would be part of those who haven’t read a book in a year. And I wonder if those who listen to audiobooks are counted or not.

    Still, it is a sad state of affairs. I love escaping into another world and making new friends, even if they are fictional. I can’t imagine not reading.

  8. Its sad that more people don’t read. I was taught to read by my older cousin when I was 4 or 5 (before I started kindergarten) and have been reading ever since. As a child, I always sat in the backseat because I had a book everywhere I went and would sit in the backseat and read. I read almost anything except horror. I prefer the fantasy end of science fiction but have read some science fiction by Robert Crane. I could live without television and have in the past but I could not live without books in one form or another. I like all formats for reading. I agree that listening to a book is not the same as reading it but I love audio books because I can work on my crocheting or cross stitch and still be reading.
    I love that there are ebooks and overdrive so I can read MORE books. I also still love the printed books too. I was a history major so really love reading books about history and those are so much better in hand to be able to flip back to the footnotes and read them as you are reading the book. I just discovered how to get to the footnotes when reading a book on kindle (that was such an AHA moment for me).

    Thank you for this post. Sad statistics but I will never stop reading, even if I am just doing audiobooks in the future because my eyesight is gone. LOVE BOOKS!!

  9. Congrats on the new book and thank you all for writing! When my mother would tell me to go outside and get some fresh air I would take a bowl of potato chips, a Coke and a book and walk to the other side of the driveway and sit at the picnic table and read. Both my grandmother and mother loved to read and my mother told the local librarian I had permission to check out whatever I wanted. Can you imagine not reading even one book a year? I can’t even imagine not reading something each and every day. I prefer a book I can hold in my hands but audiobooks are great for my daily walk and ebooks are much more portable – and allow me to be sociable with my hubby when he watches TV.

  10. I prefer hard back books and paperbacks over an electronic device, though they are handy for travel!

  11. I love reading real books. I usually prefer hardcovers, but paperbacks are too! Just give me a great story!

  12. I prefer print books but some books are only available as e-books or very much cheaper. The only audiobook I tried to read, I hated the narrator’s voice but also had trouble paying attention. Something about seeing words in print helps me remember them better.

    My parents and I read a lot of historical fiction. Of course I started with Little Golden books, The Black Stallion, Nancy Drew, etc. For a while I thought my brother was adopted because he only read magazines or comics but he read books as an adult. A turning point in my life was when a co-worker said that she only read newspapers. And she was proud of it! I started to tell people what I did in my life without worrying if they would disapprove or judge. I sure disapprove of not reading!

  13. Entertaining stories & characters keep me reading. I read in all formats & it really depends on where I’m reading that determines which format I prefer.

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