To read or not to read, that´s the question

“I don´t read because I don´t have time.” “With everything I have to read at work I´m too tired to read anything else.” I have heard these excuses a thousand times when you are talking about reading. The ones who pronounce these statements want to emphasize that they are really busy people and that they have to fulfill important tasks that don´t leave them enough time to read. It seems as if with their excuses they were trying to make feel guilty to those who do find time for this activity.

This situation is due to the hypocrisy that surrounds reading. Reading is a symbol of culture and the ones who don´t do it may feel despised. It is common to find people who claim to enjoy reading, but when they are asked about the last book that they have read they mention that novel that they were forced to read in high school. This occurs so often that I have received looks of disbelief when, during a job interview, I have been asked about my hobbies and, amongst others, I have mentioned reading.

I have to confess that I have enjoyed reading since I was a child. My aim with this post is not to defend the obvious benefits of reading -it enlarges your vocabulary, improves your spelling, develops your imagination …- or try to convince anyone to start reading, although I’d feel very satisfied if I could make it.

The question that has been raised from the Culture Department is: how can you promote reading among kids if you don´t want them to consider this activity an obligation, but a pleasure? The answer is not simple. The role of parents is crucial. Measures such as reading to their children and being active readers can help. If children see that their parents enjoy reading they will want to find out what it is and it´s more likely that they become readers.

In Bilbao since the subway was opened you can see many people reading on public transport. This is because reading can also be an outdoor activity; any place is good for practicing it: the beach, the park…

Any kind of book is acceptable. Many people believe that some novels -because of their theme or their sales …- are bad. We shouldn´t judge what others read. Some books are universally recognized, but this doesn´t mean that we have to underestimate other literature whose main function is to entertain the reader.

The high price of books in this country can be an obstacle for people who want to become readers. Marian Keyes’s novel “This charming man” cost when it was published 14 euro in Ireland and 20 in Spain. Besides, the idea of second-hand books is not really popular. In England there are many charity shops that sell second-hand books, donated by the citizens, at very low prices.

Downloading books from the internet and the eBook can help readers saving money and become the future of reading, but they can´t replace the feeling of holding a book in your hands.

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