What went wrong with leisure reading?

Teksti: Aderemi Fayoyiwa
Kuvat: Pixabay

It is no news that global reading culture has taken a turn for the worse, the rate at which leisure reading declines worldwide is alarming. Nowadays, most people read only when it is necessary. Gone are the days when people, particularly youngsters, had insatiable appetite for knowledge, and what are the better ways to acquire knowledge than reading? Days when young folks devour books after books in search of knowledge and entertainment especially in areas of interest are ending faster than we think.

I couldn’t agree more with this quote by Lemmy Kilmister: ”People don’t read anymore. It’s a sad state of affairs. Reading’s the only thing that allows you to use your imagination. When you watch movies it’s someone else’s vision, isn’t it?” When some of us pick new areas of interest, we would rather watch documentaries than read about our objects of interest. This, as Lemmy Kilmister rightly pointed out, is seeing things from someone’s viewpoint. How about reading up, forming your opinions, and drawing your conclusions? Reading used to be an admirable quality and people will describe themselves as avid readers to score points and earn respect, but as of today, we live in a world where leisure readers are perceived as nerds and uncool people to be around.

I bet we have the same question: what went wrong? Many blame this drastic decline in reading culture on evolution of technology, but I beg to differ. If anything, advent of technology should improve reading culture and not cause a decline. I mean, the invention of e-books for instance has made reading much easier; humanity is forever indebted to Michael S. Hart for this amazing invention as far back as 1971. Some will argue that e-books came into existence before then but in any case, their existence is a blessing to humanity. With e-books, you can read anywhere without the hassle of carrying heavy books around and you can have as many e-books as the storage size of your digital device can permit.

Some other people belong to the school of thought that time for leisure reading no longer exists as they used to in the past. Truth be told, the world is busier than it was some ten years ago but if we can find time to catch up on our favorite TV series, sports, YouTube vlogs and regularly mark attendance at the gym, then we can create time to read at least a chapter of a book in two days. It takes conscious effort to cultivate good reading habit for school related studies and much more for leisure reading.

Reading has many benefits that extends beyond exercising the mind. Reading also helps to wade away depression; research has shown that on the average, people who read for leisure are happier and more satisfied with life than people who do not. Let’s revive the reading culture, one person at a time and the best person to start with is you. Get a book about something that interests you, you could buy/borrow printed books or download e-books for free or otherwise. If you were to get a book today, which book would you get? I think I will get a book on fashion (don’t judge me, that’s my interest for now). Also, I will get some printed books so that once in a while, I get to put my feet up in front of my heater (no fireplace) in my tiny apartment and enjoy the cold winter evening with a lovely book.


Aderemi Fayoyiwa

The writer is from Nigeria and
currently a Ph.D student of chemistry at UEF.