National Novel Writing Month user Uninvoked began a thread on the forums pondering if people read anymore. Given my recent book review (and another one pending the finishing of my current book), I’m wondering the same thing. I read anything I can get my hands on and occasionally some things I can’t. My letters to my grandparents as a young child concerned things I read in the encyclopedia. At one point in middle school, I was devouring a book a day to the point that the teacher who let me borrow them started to doubt that I was really reading them until I told her about them. (This was before the plot of every book under the sun could be found online.)
Granted, I read less than a book a day, and probably less than a book a week given my other activities. However, the number of people around me who are astonished to see a book in someone’s hand still shocks me. I could get a shiny halo next to my NaNoWriMo username if I had a dollar for each person on my commute who gave me a strange look for the book in my hand. (I could get even more goodies if we extended this analogy to a notebook. Heck, I could probably fund NaNoWriMo’s expenses this year if I had a dollar for everyone who has ever given me a strange look for having a novel or notebook in hand.) So what do people have against books?
School is the first place that some kids see books. If there aren’t a lot of books at home, they may make the connection that school equals books. Unfortunately, if they don’t like school, they may also grow to dislike books, regardless of how interesting any other book out there really is.
Along with school comes peer pressure. Unfortunately, a kid who enjoys books out of her own will is often viewed as an outsider. It certainly got me pegged as an outcast as a kid. Naturally, the other kids will apply pressure to the bibliophile. Few kids want to be the outcast, so some will cave and try to be like everyone else.
And let’s not forget environment. A kid who grows up around book lovers is likely to become a book lover herself. There are certainly exceptions. I’m one of them.
Whatever the reason, always remember: It’s not the size of your book collection but how you use it.