Some days, it seems like reading is a lost art. Sure, we read text messages and Tweets and even Japanese cell phone novels; we read on the iPhone and the Kindle and maybe even the headlines at NYTimes.com, but when was the last time you sat down with a serious work of literary fiction or long-form journalism and actually finished it? Whose was the last biography you read? The last book of essays? The last contender for Great American Novel?
The sad fact is, in the first quarter of 2009, one out of every seven books sold in the United States was by Stephanie Meyer, of Twilight fame. The very existence of Dan Brown in the cannon should be enough to make writers, would be writers, and lit nerds alike throw down their swords and give up the fight. I’m not against popular literature–far from it–but wasn’t there a time in the not so distant past where we made a distinction between pop and pulp, where writers like Mark Twain, Judy Blume and Kurt Vonnegut wrote blockbuster bestsellers that didn’t suck (and that’s just the Americans). Sure, good writers are still out there ( and G-d willing, always will be) but their market is ever-shrinking. The reason? Readers have forgotten how to read.
Sure, the internet has a hand in it, but so does the proliferation of the automobile, the explosion of television, the sub-/exurb and the increasing demands of modern life. Now that you’re un- (or under) employed (or, conversely, now that you’re maximally stressed trying to scrimp around the edges and make ends meet in a fantastically bad economy), here’s 7 tips to help you relearn reading.
1) Break it up: The number one reason non-readers don’t read is that reading is boring. Yes, I admit it, even I get bored with books. That’s why I read across platforms (to borrow terminology). A typical month includes daily internet news, two weekly magazines, one or two novels, a collection of short stories or essays and a biography or non-fiction book. That’s a lot, but even beginners can mix and match to match their ability, taste and appetite. For more clues on how to do it, keep reading…