Social Question

Yellowdog's avatar

Do people still read books nowadays?

Asked by Yellowdog (12208points) January 4th, 2018

I bought an excellent book. But my eyes got tired after about ten pages and I lost interest—seems I can’t get into the “whole” book fast enough. I’m used to decimating information and interest from the internet to stimulate my brain. I guess I need more instant gratification than I can get from a book. Even a very good book.

As a larger trend, I think most people watch movies on demand and even play games that move like a story and give more involvement than reading a book.

I am an avid writer and have written professionally but am concerned that people don’t read books anymore. I don’t, and because of so many alternatives to stimulate our brains—I seem to have lost the ability to get into a good novel. I only seem to enjoy books that give information about things, where I can skip around.

How about you? Are you still interested in reading a good novel or biography— something with a beginning and an end that you have to read through? Do you read books?

This is not a social category question— of course we are interested in each other socially on Fluther, but I am asking for information as to whether its worth it to try to have books published,

I don’t want to make the effort if people, like me, don’t read anymore.

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62 Answers

rojo's avatar

I do but I have found my novel reading is not what it used to be. I just do not seem to have the interest in fiction that I used to. Not that I don’t, just not as much, maybe only 5 or 6 a year now.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

My wife is a very avid reader,she goes through two or three books a month.

NomoreY_A's avatar

I do but I am more of a history buff. I just finished a book, “The Shining Sea – The Epic Voyage of the USS Essex in the War of 1812”. A facinating true story of a voyage into the Pacific ocean by a US frigate in pursuit of British whalers, and their misguided attempt colonize some Pacific Islands for the U.S.
I suppose it’s a matter of what individual people like.

rojo's avatar

No it the fiction category but I have a book I want to read, “Keynes; The general theory of employment, interest and money” but it has been sitting on my desk for about a week now. I just haven’t taken the time to start it.

Last fiction book I read was on my last cruise a couple of months ago. It was called “The Rathbones” by Janice Clark

MrGrimm888's avatar

I still read books. I don’t think I could read a whole book on a screen.

I’ve actually been collecting some used college books. I’m sure all the information is available online, but I like the books…

Kardamom's avatar

I do. I read every day (actually, it’s usually before I go to bed). I have no interest in any of those electronic e-reader devices. Real books is what I like. I trade books at our free lending library at the farmers market, and I buy lots of books at the thrift stores, and I still buy brand new books on Amazon. Everyone in my family loves to read.

Right now, I’m reading the 6th book in the Lumby Series by Gail Fraser.

I have a whole bunch of authors that I like, and I try to read all of their books. I never have an empty night stand. There’s always a book on it. I also have a stack of about 40 books that I’m waiting to read.

Zaku's avatar

It seem to me like most of my family and friends are enthusiastic readers of books and spend a large chunk of their time doing so. Even almost all of the young kids and teens I have known recently have all been enthusiastic about books and read them for pleasure (though they also spent as much or more time playing games and watching movies and TV).

I have always liked books, but I like to read them carefully and get every word, so it makes me a bit slow at it. I read more books now than I have before, not counting the forced reading in school. However other forms of entertainment and fiction (mainly games and films and some TV) have always taken up more of my time than reading, but they never eclipse it.

The main form of media that I’ve stopped consuming almost entirely for over a decade (and would have done so earlier except for others) is broadcast & scheduled TV. And not just because the content is mostly atrocious and even worse than in the past, but because it also requires watching on a broadcast schedule, and (worst of all) includes advertising so awful that it makes me despise the people responsible for it. (I do still watch TV shows that are available without ads at any time via the Internet, and I do still listen to broadcast radio sometimes when driving).

Jeruba's avatar

I sure do. I read 55 books last year, and I was really off my game. Usual for me is more like 75. Most are more than 300 pages.

I probably read 3 or 4 novels for every nonfiction work, but the nonfiction books tend to be long, meaning 600 pages or so. I really like books I can dig into.

Most of them are paper books. I have a Kindle, which I have come to appreciate after about 5 years, but I still like not only the feel of a real book but the fact that I can mark it in pencil.

However, self-publishing without benefit of editing has done a lot to ruin the reading experience by flooding the market with crap. Not even the most accomplished writer is qualified to be his or her own sole editor. And the Dunning-Kruger effect is rampant in the world of amateur authorship. Most people who aspire to publication want their work to be read but don’t seem to realize how essential it is to be readers themselves.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Aethelwine's avatar

Of course! You will never lack of an audience.

(Lack of or lack for. Help, @Jeruba)

Jeruba's avatar

lack for or want for; you will never suffer the lack of

Catnip5's avatar

I still do. Not as much as textbooks for assignment and just some nonfictional works.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

With good advertisements, reviews, and endorsements people can be encouraged to read more. I believe many people in thrid-world countries still prefer the traditional paper books than E-books to satisfy their needs of learning (especially at schools and learning institutions) and entertainment. All the popular novels that have been made in to movies are living proof that many people still read books.

As for myself, I still read fiction books as well as browsing the internet and sometimes playing video games, all are scheduled differently. I find that if you depend too much on electric devices to satisfy mind you’ll eventually get tired of them and traditional fiction book bring a different spectacle which is a good release in this situation.

chyna's avatar

I read everyday before bed.

flutherother's avatar

I read non-fiction mostly and biographies. I have finished one novel since the start of this year and am half way through a non-fiction title. I have experienced the “tired eyes” you complain of when reading print books but since my optician gave me a pair of reading glasses this is much less of a problem.

A recent market research report on books and e-books in the UK has found a continuing revival in printed books as consumers young and old appreciate being able to own and read tangible physical content. In contrast the e-book market is stagnating.

Some books I buy to read and not to keep and these I download to my kindle.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Old habits die hard. All of those decades before the arrival of computers, tablets, etc. when books were the key to it all. The key still works perfectly and books are as comfortable and familiar as my socks and underwear.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes. I and most of the people I know read a lot, whether paper or device (it is, after all, the words that define it as a book, not the delivery system).

I know a few authors that have had to adjust to the difference in publishing, they seem to have made the leap, but have mentioned that it is much harder to navigate the system, especially for new authors.

LornaLove's avatar

I have Kindle and the Internet I prefer books any day. There is just something about reading off a screen that I can’t stand. The only problem with books is I read them and throw them out as I hate clutter. (It’s not like I am going to read them over and over, I’d be too bored). I love books the pages and all of it much more than Kindle. (I even get a free book on Kindle a month and I don’t bother anymore).

rockfan's avatar

I love to read, but rarely find the time. I listen to audiobooks while going to work, but I find that’s it’s just not the same as reading at your pace

chyna's avatar

@lornalove please don’t throw them out! Donate them to your local library or community center or Goodwill. I’m thinking you don’t live in the US, so I’m not sure where you can donate them. Also, at my previous job there were a few of us that loved to read so we traded books.

seawulf575's avatar

I read a couple books a month, my wife goes through about 10 a month. Part of the difference is the amount of time spent on reading and the other part is the size of the books. I am a sucker for a huge novel…the bigger the better. Series are almost as good.

Zissou's avatar

I read nonfiction books and graphic novels. I do read biographies, but I rarely read regular novels in book form anymore, maybe one or two a year. When I do, it’s usually a classic by a dead author or something in French that I am reading to keep up my ability in the language. I too have ideas for novels, but my own reading habits make me pessimistic about finding an audience.

Aethelwine's avatar

@LornaLove I’m sure a nearby retirement home would love your used books.

Kardamom's avatar

@LornaLove Maybe there is a free lending library near you (not a bricks and mortar library). We have several around town. One is at the farmers market. You bring whatever books you have and leave them, and take as many books as you want. You don’t have to bring them back, or check them out. It’s more like a trading library. There is another one set up at one of the local grocery stores. They just have a box (that someone built that looks like a little doll house with shelves on it) and you can drop off your books, and take ones that appeal to you.

If you don’t have such a thing, you should consider making one yourself. You could talk to your neighbors and see if they want to start trading (and set up a depository somewhere) or talk to your local vendors and see if they would be OK with you setting up a depository in front of their store. It doesn’t have to be big. The one at our local store is probably 24 inches by 24 inches, and maybe 8 inches deep, with a couple of shelves. People just bring books, and take books, that’s it.

The one at the farmers market is a little bigger operation, in that they actually have a booth set up, not just for books. They also have a spot where you can leave your plastic bags (from the grocery store) or get bags that people are no longer using (both plastic and cloth) and they recycle corks, and they have community information, and they sell items to use or their animal rescue charity. It’s a fun booth to visit, because there’s always lots of interesting things going on.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I still read probably as much as I ever have. And yes, most of my book reading is done on my Kindle these days. One big exception is with chess books. E-book formatting does not suit chess books at all.

AlaskaTundrea's avatar

I read as much as I ever did, maybe more, albeit my focus tends to be on non-fiction, esp. history types. I’ve always read. My parents have a photo of me balancing a book on my knees with a bottle still in my mouth “reading” long before I knew how. Never mind that the book was upsidedown, I was into books. Why? Probably because my parents were readers.

Always had books around the house, from the age-appropriate ones to the to me then racy ones. Reading books has always been my joy and escape. Do I have a Kindle? Yep, even read on it at times but I don’t enjoy that as much as having a real book in my hands, tho’ find it handy when I need to entertain myself away from the book shelves. Do I spend way too much time online? Of course, tho’ I usually end my day happily turning off the computer to lose myself in a book for awhile before bed. Sometimes, if the book is particularly interesting, that “awhile” can turn into all night, one of the joyful perks of retirement.

My friends read, heck, my friends write, as do I. While my focus is on historical related types, I’ll read anything, from what I call “no-brainers,” entertaining but don’t require much thought, to heavy reading. Nope, reading books isn’t going anywhere.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Does porn count as reading? If the lesbians have subtitles?...

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I do. Not as much as before tho. I revisited To Kill a Mockingbird on a recent road trip.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

My son works for a retirement compound and he gets more stuff! He brought home an entire box of Reader’s Digest condensed books! My shelves were getting bare. I still havent found a place to put them all. Funny but I look at the titles and I’ve read 75% of them!

LornaLove's avatar

I will donate absolutely. I never thought of that. Thanks.

Kardamom's avatar

Lorna’s Lending Library : )

Patty_Melt's avatar

I still read. Currently I am reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.
I normally read fiction, but after seeing Awakenings for the nth time, I felt curious about the doctor who wrote the stories.
It is interesting, but I can only handle a few pages at a time. It is a book that can’t be just read. It has to be absorbed. Otherwise, at the end one would feel like they just learned something, but what?

I have considered self publishing, but I’m not convinced of its popularity yet.

NomoreY_A's avatar

I found a used copy of Leon Uris’ “Topaz” over the weekend which I just began reading. Loosely based on a real espionage case in the Kennedy era in which a French government official was selling Nato secrets to the Soviet Union. Pretty good thriller from days gone by. And Leon Uris never wrote a dull novel. When I finish that I may try to track down another of his novels, “Queens Bench VII”.

flutherother's avatar

Since my earlier response I downloaded a novel about growing up in Zimbabwe. It isn’t my usual kind of book but it is so well written, so observant and insightful that I am hooked.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have been trying to get my hands on a copy of Look Out For Pirates for my 6 year old grand daughter. Man, that was the best adventure book of all time for a 1st / 2nd grader! I can’t find anything for less that $25! Some of them are going for $100 +. Guess I’m not the only once who recognizes a great book.

dxs's avatar

I’m not good at it, but I like doing it. I tutor in a library for my school and when I have no appointments but I’m still on the clock, I often look for a book to read. I do it in my spare time too. Currently I’m rereading a book on group theory to refresh my memory so I can sit in on an algebra class next semester.
I hardly see people in the shelves. The library I work at has reformed itself to cater to how people do stuff nowadays. The 11-story library has books on only three of its floors, where the majority of those floors is desk/computer space. On one of those floors that has books, it’s only science journals. There’s a whole floor that’s empty that used to be books.

Harvard’s science library is worse. It has two floors and a basement floor. I went in recently after not going for a while and it completely changed. It’s basically desk space and computer space. There are study rooms, too. The books are crammed into one corner of the basement. And I mean crammed—there aren’t even aisles. All of the books are on one of those machines where you crank it and the books part like the red sea to make an aisle. Well, it’s electronic and not a crank.

I think I veered away from your question but oh well.

Lina444's avatar

I can’t imagine my life without books! I used to read every day and everywhere I could. But now I have a little son, so sometimes I can’t read because of lack of time.

longgone's avatar

Absolutely, though I’ve had experiences similar to yours. I solved the problem by creating distraction-free times of reading, but it also helped that I made a new friend who’s been providing me with excellent stories. I think the first book that really gripped me again, after a period of reading less, was “The Poisonwood Bible”.

Luckily, becoming a reader again is as much of a positive feedback loop as it is to become a reader in the first place. As a child you’re training your brain to translate those strange symbols into words. Even though we all struggle with that at first, it becomes easier just as fast as it becomes more enjoyable. The same is true for training your brain to focus on books again. You’ll struggle for a few days, and then slide back in that wonderful state you’ll remember from reading “Narnia” at age eight.

AshlynM's avatar

I do, but not as much as I used to when I was younger.

Zissou's avatar

I hate to admit it, but websurfing, gaming, and streaming video take up a lot of the time I used to spend on novels. When I cut back on one or two of these, the other(s) seem to take up the slack instead of novels.

seawulf575's avatar

Another option out there, if you don’t want to take the time to read, is audio books. Pop one into your car stereo and listen while you go to work, to the store, on a trip. You get all the benefit of the book without the eyestrain.

Dutchess_III's avatar

To me that would be as bad as talking on the phone while driving. My concentration would be split between the story and the road and that’s a bad thing.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I cannot express in words the disdain I hold for audiobooks.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@seawulf575 is right though. Audio books are a good alternative. I suppose an easily distracted person could have issues, but you really just set it up. It doesn’t require near the attention of most phones/devices…

Kardamom's avatar

I have Serius X FM Radio and I can tell you that listening to stories while you drive, is wonderful. One of the shows I listen to is classic radio shows, including Suspense, which was a show about mysteries.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Sometimes, when pain is too much, I have put my laptop by my bed and audiobook to sleep.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s not a question of being “easily distracted,” @MrGrimm888. It’s a question of being the least bit distracted when commanding a 2000 pound machine of mass destruction.
I’ll listen to the radio but since I already know the songs it isn’t distracting. It would be very distracting to try and follow an unfamiliar story line, and pick up on the nuances while driving. When I read books I sometimes go back and read passages to make sure I understood that right, or to mark a particularly beautiful choice of words.
Sometimes I make note of a word I’d not heard before and figure it out from the context.
I imagine I’d want to do the same with an audio book.
I get into books and stories, deeply.

Now, what were you saying about “easily distracted”?

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I have a friend that drives a lot, because of his job. He watches Netflix on long road trips, while driving. We got in a huge argument about it once. I was telling him how irresponsible, and dangerous it was, and he wouldn’t hear it. He’s still alive, so I don’t know what to make of that…

Darth_Algar's avatar

I just don’t care for the format. When I want to take in a novel I want to read it, I want to see the words with my own eyes, and I want to “hear” it in the voice(s) that my own mind gives the text and characters. I’ve tried audiobooks several times by many different readers, some with talented voice actors, and I just can’t dig it. I also find that I retain the information better by reading it myself rather than having it read to me.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Could there be an anti-conformist motivation, for your dislike of audio books?

I’m not a fan, but I think that’s my motivation…

Darth_Algar's avatar

What’s anti-conformist about preferring to read?

Aethelwine's avatar

I agree with Darth. I retain information better when I read. I get distracted easily when I need to listen to someone.

Give me a book and I’ll read all night. Make me listen and I’m snoozing within the hour.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I couldn’t think of a better way to describe some of my motivation than maybe fear/dislike of change, that I’m not a big fan of (for lots of the same reasons mentioned above,) becoming popular.

I guess I like them in certain situations, but totally agree that they aren’t as good as reading, casting, and imagining the story unfold.

I suppose, if I had sight issues, I would prefer audio books, to learning brail. Not sure.

longgone's avatar

[Mod says] Moved to Social with OP’s permission.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Oh, I don’t care if they’re popular or not, I just don’t like them personally. I suppose my use of the word “disdain” might be a bit strong, but I also use that word to describe my relationship with onions. Doesn’t bother me that everyone else likes them though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

“When I want to take in a novel I want to read it, I want to see the words with my own eyes, and I want to “hear” it in the voice(s) that my own mind gives the text and characters….” Well said @Darth_Algar.

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HerondaleGirl07's avatar

Of course. I read like 4 to 5 books every week.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Personally, I don’t read much..In all honesty, I NEVER did!!! When in school, we were required to read books & give a book report. I found that assignment frustrating as after 10–15 minutes, I’d fall sound asleep. It could take me weeks to finish a good book & I didn’t always retain what I had read. With the increase in movies, I found a way to bow out of reading books!!!

On the other hand, I have many friends who are avid readers. I help a friend with her booth at a local flea market & she frequently has books that she sells for $1 each. One particular lady bought 10 books. She came back the next weekend asking IF it would be possible to swap out the books she has read for a different one. My friend agreed because she still had a book to sell for the one she had swapped out. Now, this lady comes by every weekend swapping out 4 maybe 5 books that she read during the week for different books. I envy her because I would be in a coma IF I read that many books!!!

Now another friend of mine who loves writing has discovered that when he writes something that it is more profitable for him to publish it himself & list it on Amazon. I don’t understand how that works but you might want to check it out. I’m sure that many of his books never make it into hardback instead going straight to Kindle. That would give you some income & a way to determine which of your ideas are the most popular IF you wanted to get into hardback. Once my friend decided the books he felt were worth being hardbacks, he promoted them himself through local bookstores. He’d advertise in the local newspapers that he would be autographing his book at a local bookstore. With word of mouth, he has become fairly popular locally. He’s no Hemingway nor will he ever bed; but he is earning a good side income just from believing in himself!!!

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