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Reading : A Declining Habit
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Reading : A Declining Habit

I recently came across a series of articles which became a point of concern for me. Therefore I would like to share it with all of you.

There has been a drastic decline in the reading habit of the general population in the last two decades. Very few people now read just for the "pleasure" of the activity. This is an extremely depressing trend. What is more depressing, though, is, as literacy levels increase all over the world, the simple art of reading as a hobby, is on a decline.

More and more people are getting to read the words, language and to write them, but less and less people are actually reading books. I am not going to bore you with boring, mindless statistics, about the declining reading habits among today's generations, I'll just provide certain facts, that you will be astounded to know.

According to recent statistics, a person in the Arab world, reads a mere 4 pages in any given year...!!! However, the literacy levels in the same region averages 73 percent.

Again in Sub Saharan Africa, according to African Library Project, 1 in 3 adults cannot read and the average literacy levels is around 63 per cent. The habit of reading is however, higher here. In fact a literate person in Africa reads about 15 pages on an average in any given year.

Now coming to the two most economically developed continents, America and Europe.

The literacy levels in USA is 99 percent, though an average American reads only upto 20 pages in any given year.

This rate is slightly higher in Europe, where an average person reads anywhere between 50-70 pages in any given year.

Thus we can see that literacy levels and the habit of reading is inconsistent in all the above cases.

My question is , why is "reading" as a hobby declining?

Is it because of the intrusion of electronic media or the public in general have given up on reading as no good can come out of it.

Or are we so busy in our everyday lives that the joy of reading has taken a backseat for most of us?

Let us clear the first question. I agree the electronic media, has made books nowadays somewhat redundant. What is the use of books, if we can get all the information we require for our day-to-day lives by just a click on the mouse? It is true that, even this author, went through the net, to find all those boring stats listed above. In fact, the 1960's and the 1970's were proclaimed as the "era of the death of print"... However, this cannot be the sole cause of such a drastic decline. Other factors such as over dependence of other media of communication, such as the email, phone, text and now even video calling are each responsible for this decline. Overuse of Television as a form of knowledge gathering have been encouraged by many parents, albeit unconsciously... This has done incredible harm to the practice of reading.

I also agree, that many developing countries, do not have resources to devote to public libraries, as developed countries do. But then as we have seen in the data above, it is the developing economies with very low literacy rate, where some of the highest Reading as an art come from. remember the sub Saharan African data...

It is most surprising to see that even people in developed economies are doing almost as little reading as some of the most impoverished economies.

I believe one of the reasons, that reading has been neglected is our mentality. We often, as parents, as teachers,or as older siblings, or as friends, do not show the right direction. Please ask yourself one question, how many of you, take your children, regularly to the public library around your neighborhood In fact how many of you are members of the library yourselves, or even if you are a member, how often do you visit the library for borrowing or returning books... You'll get the answer as to why our society has forgotten the art of reading yourself.

Also another very major reason, as to why this habit is on a wane, lies with our media. The films and the television, all portray people who like reading and those who like books, as nerds... this is an extremely narrow minded view. If one looks at popular teen movies and the teen idols, people who like books, excel in studies and are often the brightest students, are ridiculed and laughed upon. There is a very famous show on the television, The Big Bang Theory, where there are these 4 outstanding scientists, and all the four struggle with their social lives. The tagline of the show is "nerdy is the new sexy".... how ridiculous...!!! I often wonder.

No wonder, our kids, who, even, if they are a bit interested in reading, probably fear being labelled as "nerds"...

Another major culprit, I would in fact rate it No. 1 on my list is the Television. Over dependence on this particular piece of electronic device is ruining our society. Kids are now hooked on TV and as a result, the hobby of reading declines.

The increased intolerance in our society that we notice today, can partly be blamed on this declining habit of reading. People now are just literate enough to get their work done. They hardly have any interest in increasing the base of their knowledge... They are becoming narrow minded in the process and hence our society at large is being harmed.

I do not want to devote this article to the innumerable virtues of reading but I just want to point out that if we go back in history and examine the different civilizations, we will see that a peaceful, contemplative and tolerant society was one, where people were encouraged to read and their intellectual abilities were identified and rewarded. The more and more a society became intolerant and brutal, more and more, reading as an art declined. We can witness this trend in Rome, in Greece and even in India...

So it is indeed a dangerous signal. The growing intolerance, racism, hatred for each other, can all be attributed to a decline in people's liking for reading.

Books are THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPANION TO A GREAT LIFE.... this truth cannot be ignored any longer. The longer we ignore books, the more will we push ourselves to the realm of intolerance, perversion and hatred. If we can learn anything from history, it is this. The society has to made to love books, the knowledge inherent in its pages have to reach more people, only then we can dream of a society where useless blood flow will stop and people will look in each other's eyes with renewed respect.

Books are important, reading as an hobby should be encouraged... we can no longer afford to ignore this truth.

Street Talk

I would hate to think I am a dieing breed! I love the library and frequent it often. The numbers you gave are a sad reflection. I wish it were better.

  about 9 years ago

Absolutely... That's why I thought of writing the article in the first place... too few people share our liking for reading... we are the last remaining species of this noble hobby... thanks for stopping by...!!! :)

  about 9 years ago
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