The death of the book?

book_is_dead_logo_medA wonderfully written article by Josphine Tovey in Australia’s Daily Life contains the illuminating extract:

“Somewhere between the invention of Facebook, Game of Thrones entering a third season and the 356th Gif ‘listicle’ on Buzzfeed about signs you’re almost 30, I stopped reading books.

Starting them frequently, but rarely finishing them. I struggle to remember the last time I read one cover to cover. I can’t be certain it was in 2013.”

The author goes on to describe a childhood immersed in the reading of countless books complete with bedtime struggles over “just a few more chapters”. And the subsequent realisation, shared with her social circle, that they either no longer read at all, make regular aborted attempts that end with the book being abandoned half way through, at best, or do still read but facilitated by an enforced and iron discipline to do so. It is now a discipline borne of feeling one ‘should’, read, rather than a natural pleasure. Sure, the positive effects are felt afterwards and you are glad you have done it in the end, but it is a bit like the attitude of most office workers going to the gym. It is viewed as necessary but requires a steely will-power most struggle to maintain over the long-haul.

So why are we finding it increasingly difficult to read a book from cover to cover, an activity that has always given us pleasure? The blame is being put, at least by Tovey, and she is probably right, squarely at the door of the endless stream of easy-to-consume-bite-size-chunks of information that social media carries us away with. We scan Facebook, we check the Twitter feeds, we read blogs, we have an instant choice of countless addictive TV shows and movies at our fingertips. We don’t need to be in a certain place at a certain time to consume any of them anymore ,and it is just, well, so much easier.

We are distracted constantly by the flow of information always in our pocket or infront of us, and we become used to taking the easy option that doesn’t require either commitment or attention span. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how accurate Tovey’s foretold ‘death of the book’, will prove to be. If our generation of 20 and 30-somethings raised on books and relatively recently exposed to the current situation are struggling so much to read, which we still maintain we love, what hope is there for the generation raised in this world? It will be a great shame if reading does truly become a minority-interest hobby and something we only do until we finish school. And will the ‘hobbies and interests’, section of the CV may be irrevocably ripped from its comfort of ‘reading, music and (insert token sport you used to practise occasionally).