Half of the males and nearly half of the females had not read a single book. Nearly all of the men read nonfiction, mainly history, while the females were split between fiction and nonfiction. On average, males read 1.7 books, while females read 3.7.
I could have surveyed many more people, but my last four subjects all reported zero, which was disheartening. After a zero answer—no surprise—we didn’t have anything more to say to each other. One young man blurted, with disdain, “I’m out of school, why would I read a book?” (I could use some cheering up, so feel free to comment.)
If subjects reported reading any books, we became lifelong pals. Though I did wonder why one person claimed to be reading history when in fact he was reading Bill O’Reilly. And this guy was a history teacher!
Those admission fees ain’t cheap, so presumably, my subjects had disposable income, just not for books. I suppose I’ve always believed, mostly unconsciously, that reading feeds thinking, that sophisticated thinking is born of the sophisticated language we chew on. If you only spoke infantile chatter to a toddler, for example, cognitive development will likely be stilted, yes? On the other hand, there are many people I know and love who do not read any books, ever, yet they seem content and live rich family lives. I don’t know how to reconcile this, other than to admit that how others choose to spend their time, whether cozying up to a book or not, is none of my business.
So why can’t I shake my discouragement?