Reading is, by far, the most underrated form of entertainment in the twenty-first century, and it seems that the more I interact with people about books and reading, the more I hear the, now familiar refrain, “I’m too busy to read.”
Wrong Answer! Reading is an important and necessary component of our cognitive abilities. I believe that if we don’t read enough lengthy and engaging stories, we will rapidly lose our ability to maintain focus for long periods of time, lose our ability to transfer information into our long-term memory and slide into a state of literacy bankruptcy. A large deficit is beginning to develop in our available time and our desire to spend it doing something that is, essentially, a long-term commitment – Reading a Book. We don’t have time for that kind of ‘static investment’, and so, we scroll through snippets of information – tweets, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat feeds, etc. that consume our available time and waste it on shallow, quickly-forgotten fluff. When was the last time you read a book – cover to cover? If you can’t answer that question, you are heading for literacy bankruptcy.
A possible solution is to committing to a reading renewal programme that will help you, and your family, reclaim some time for reading. Find an hour a week to sit and read ONE work of literature – a paperback, an ebook, a graphic novel – any ONE work that you focus that entire hour on. Turn off the t.v. and game consoles, put away the mobile devices and sit together, reading.
Another solution is to GIVE people books. Often, we are torn about what to spend our precious and dwindling disposable income on, so we forego the book purchase in favour of something we need or that we want more (as I said, books are a big commitment!). If someone gives you a book, the dilemma of whether it’s worth spending the money on it is solved. Holidays and birthdays are great book-giving occasions. There is a massive, available selection of books out there. The book marketplace is staggeringly large, thanks to players such as Amazon, and I encourage you to explore ‘off the shelf’ options. I’ve discovered some great independent authors this year and I recommend spending the money on supporting them much more than most of us currently do. Their stories are fresh, engaging and you get a much closer connection to the author than when you read the more ‘commercialised’ books coming from large publishing houses. We’re all keen to support local artisans who brew beer in our neighbourhoods, who own an apiary and bottle their own honey, and who knit sweaters from their llama’s wool. Why not support indie/artisan/local authors, too?