I can’t finish reading a book! Help! Is literature dying? When I was younger, I used to read a book in one day. If it took me long, it wouldn’t be over a week to finish a really bad book. I used to read so much, all the time. People would give me books. The first place I asked my parents to go when we visited the mall was the book shop.
And then, college came.
I didn’t read.
I didn’t write.
Actually, it was a pretty messy time, and I know I’m not the only one.
Why did I use to read five books a week and now I can’t finish reading a book, not even one?
I have a theory why we can’t finish reading a book anymore. See if you agree with me:
1- You can’t finish reading a book because you are way busier now than before:
Usually, kids start to become addicted to reading at eight years old or so. At least, this is what happened to me and my friends in Harry Potter world. Then, I read frantically until I was seventeen. And it went downhill from that. That’s because I didn’t have much to do back then. Besides homework, I didn’t have work or things like that to worry about. Reading was my way to escape reality. So I read. As time went on, work began, then college, chores, and basically adulting. Reading for fun was not a priority anymore. As a result: we can’t finish a book.
2- College kills our reading habits because it overloads us with boring work a lot of reading:
If you went to college, you know how draining it can be. You don’t do anything else besides reading and writing, A LOT. And it’s all mandatory. Tests, tests, and more tests. The last thing you want to do in your free time is to read and write some more.
Actually, in college, I believed that I wouldn’t be a writer because I simply couldn’t write for fun anymore.
I was drained.
And this might have happened to you too.
You are literally fed up with intellectual work. You don’t want to finish reading a book in your free time, all you want is to watch mind-numbing, spirit-crushing, game shows on TV. Finish reading a book? For fun? Never, thanks.
3- You can’t finish reading a book because of technology:
Reading is hard. You have to focus, it is not instantaneous nor quick. It can take a lot of hours. So, instead of going through the trouble of immersing yourself in a book, you simply go to Instagram or Pinterest instead. It is easier. You don’t have to think. You won’t feel anything. We are all guilty of that.
As a result: you can’t finish reading a book.
4- Our attention span is changing in the modern world:
I strongly believe in this one. We have so many stimuli all the time that we simply can’t focus any longer. Our heads are now trained to multi-task. If we have to pay attention to something too long, we simply give up. There are studies that our attention span is of 6 seconds in the modern world. SIX seconds! You can barely read one phrase in this time span. The result: you can’t finish reading a book.
Is literature dying? Is it worth writing in a world that no one reads anymore? That people can’t finish reading a book?
I thought long and hard about this.
Before, I used to think that it wasn’t worth writing because no one is reading anymore.
Then, I realized how untrue this is.
We read more than ever now.
The Internet is a very recent phenomenon. Google was launched in 1998. GOOGLE DIDN’T EXIST BEFORE THAT! We tend to forget that. 2008 was the first year that more than 50% of the world started living in cities! Before that, more people lived in the countryside. This means, people barely had electricity, imagine time for reading!
If you go to UNESCO Literacy site here, you’ll see some shocking data. “Globally, however, at least 750 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills. This results in an exclusion of low-literate and low-skilled youth and adults from full participation in their communities and societies.”.
And, this is the most advanced time in history. Before, it was much worse.
We are actually reading much more nowadays.
We have to read to be online.
People have much more access now to books than they had before.
The Internet made things much easier. And the Internet is recent.
Literature has always been for the privileged. The people who could read and write. People who had access to books.
We might think that people used to read more before but this is not true. We read much more now than in any other decade. Access to books became much easier. You can just type it on Google and buy it (most likely from Amazon). Think about how much harder it was before. You had to go to a library (if your town has libraries) and pray for having it there. If you were in a country that didn’t speak the language of the book, you would have to wait for the translation of it, and then for it to arrive at your country, to start being distributed, and for you to be lucky enough to be at a city that you would have access to it.
It was much harder.
So, the answer: Literature is not dying. It is most powerful than ever. And people read more than before.
Long live to books!
Moreover, a book is the type of media that lives longer than all. Books that are ten years old are considered very recent. There are books over 200 years old that we still read nowadays.
Now compare it with a movie or a game, that becomes old in five years time or so.
Why should you go back to your reading habits?
The short answer: because it will make you smart.
Books teach you valuable lessons that no other media can do the same.
You spend a lot of time with a book. You go deep in it. When you watch a movie, it is over in two hours or so. A book takes much longer than that. You get to know the characters, the environment, and the message much better.
Being fiction or nonfiction, a book literally has the power to change your life!
I found this article very interesting. It tells you the simple truth behind reading 200 books a year.
It gives you data like to read as many books you would need 417 hours per year. And an average American spends 705 hours on social media!
It is all training!
- Also, for us, writers, we must read to get better at writing
Imagine that you want to develop a game and you don’t like games. Imagine you want to direct a movie, however, you hate movies! That is crazy!
It goes the same for a person that want to be a writer and dislike books!
You simply won’t be able to finish writing your book ever, sorry.
You only improve your writing by reading.
How to go back to your reading habit? How to finish reading a book?
After college, I was determined to go back to reading. Then I did three simple things that made me read 15 books a year after college, and this number kept raising. 15 might seem very little (and I agree), however, keep in mind that I was reading ZERO books per year when I was in college.
1- Choose the right genre:
This is vital. When I tried to come back to a reading habit, I found out that Young Adult wasn’t doing it for me as it did when I was 17 years old. Explore different genres. Find new, exciting ones. There’s so much out there that I am sure you haven’t tried before. You spent some time off reading, which means that you’ve grown older, so you are now more mature to try new things.
For me, my two new genres were horror (hi, Stephen!), and I came back to Middle Grade, now looking at it as an adult.
2- Delete Instagram and other social media:
All right, you don’t need to really delete it, however, take it off the front page of your cell phone. Hide it. Instead, put the Kindle app there, or another ebook reader.
We can never get off our cell phones, can we?
It is a habit of ours to go directly to social media without even thinking about it.
Now, instead, you are going to Kindle or another ebook reader. Always have an ebook on your cell phone.
This was a game changer for me. I would want to click on Instagram but I stopped myself and thought “why? Instagram is a waste of time. It is sad to see all these perfect lives, all lies. I am going to read!”.
If you don’t have this kind of self-control (because social media IS an addiction), download an app that blocks other apps. I did that to get rid of my Instagram addiction.
3- Read ONLY one chapter per day. Not more.
Only one chapter per day. You can do it. While you are taking the bus to work or even while you are in the bathroom. Do this compromise with yourself. One chapter per day will make you finish more books than you think.
And when you get back to your habit, you can increase it.
- Make a list with all the books you are reading, and grade it or write reviews about it to yourself. You’ll feel rewarded when you write the name of the book there.
- Audiobooks are books in an audio format. It is the same book but only read to you. You can listen to it in your way home after work or while you do the dishes. This was also a game changer for me.
Comment down below: how many books have you read so far this year? Do you enjoy reading? What is your favorite book? Did these tips help?