During my freshman year of high school, I walked to my hometown’s public library almost every day after school. I settled into a patterned armchair across from the fireplace in the back corner of the library, where I quietly listened to music and worked on homework. If I didn’t have a lot to do, I ventured through the bookshelves, picking up any novels that piqued my interest and scribbling down the titles of those I wanted to read later.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read. Growing up, I was never without a book. I spent most of my free time reading and made frequent trips to the nearby bookstore. I asked for books for Christmas and my birthday. When I saw my relatives, the first thing they said was “Have you read anything good lately?”
I used to be able to answer that question easily. However, I realize as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more difficult. I don’t read as often as I once did, and it seems I’m not alone. The number of Americans who read for pleasure every day has dropped by more than 30 percent since 2004, according to a survey on American time use published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018.
Many blame this decline on the rise of smartphones and social media. And I have to admit, there’s merit to the argument. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t gone on the internet when they should’ve been doing something productive? I mean, it’s no secret that it’s easier to scroll through Twitter than it is to pick up a book.
However, I don’t think technology the only reason me and many other people aren’t reading as much today as we did several years ago. Is it a contributing factor? Probably. But I believe the issue primarily lies with time management.
When I talk to other people who used to read frequently but not so much anymore, I notice a sense of disconnect. We don’t read as often as we once did, but we miss it. The absence of books in our lives doesn’t sit well with us. It isn’t because we don’t want to read. It’s because we’re so busy with everything else we have going on that we let reading fall wayyy down on our list of priorities.
O U T F I T D E T A I L S
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The problem is that as we get older, we also get busier. It becomes harder not just to find the time to read, but to make the time. It’s natural to have a lot going on as an adult, and it doesn’t help that reading isn’t as convenient and accessible as it is when you’re in school. Adulthood requires more of our time and energy, which means we don’t have the flexibility to drop everything and read.
Between our jobs and other responsibilities, sitting down to read a book can sometimes feel like an impossible goal. Who has time for a trip to the library when you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? And, in the limited free time you do have, isn’t it more convenient to go on your phone instead?
Another factor that comes into play is how quickly time slips away from you. You fall into a pattern of not reading, and you don’t realize how long it’s really been since you’ve last picked up a book. This happened to me over the summer, when one day I suddenly realized that it had been almost two months since I’d last read something. Two months. That’s a lot longer than I would’ve ever expected.
What I ultimately take from this is that I need to be proactive about my reading habits in order to make them consistent. Technology presents itself as a tempting obstacle to reading, especially when you’ve got a lot of other things going on in your life. However, I miss books. I miss the excitement of starting a new novel. I miss flipping through pages for hours on end because I am too engrossed in the plot to put it down.
I want to get back into reading, though I’m not sure what that looks like. Realistically, I know I can’t make a dramatic change right now. That I don’t have the time to walk around the library every day like I once did. But I hope I can find ways to incorporate reading in my life regularly again. I won’t exactly call it a new year’s resolution, but to some degree, I intend for this year to be about reading. And I hope anyone who feels similarly can do the same for themselves. That way, when anyone asks if we’ve read any good books recently, we’ll have plenty of answers.
Have you noticed a decline of reading in your life?
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