I found this exact phrasing here, though of course it’s a well-known thought. Slightly controversial, too. I thought we could have a discussion.
(Speaking of the particular phrasing, the word ‘claims’ suggests the person can’t believe it. This is also the case with ‘just’ and ‘yet’ – it’ll happen eventually for the hypothetical non-reader; they’ll start reading at some point.)
My thought is that it’s easy for a reader to say such a thing because it’s their (and my, your) hobby. It can be hard to see why others dislike it. Personally, whilst I do see both sides I must admit that I once found it difficult to be friends with a person who said they had never read a book. Ever. Admittedly – again – this person and I just weren’t suited overall but the idea they’d never tried to read a book was hard for me to get my head around. I’m not sure I believed they’d truly never read a book, ever, but on that occasion, at least, it proved a deal breaker. At that point in my life, my teen years, I could be friends with someone who wasn’t a reader but a person who had never read a book at all and had no plans to change that was a bit too foreign.
But, this said, as said, I see both sides. The case for it not being true – that a person just hasn’t found the right book – is simple. Reading is an activity like any other. Some like it, some don’t. And I think in the majority of cases, when a person says they don’t like reading, it’s the physical act they’re referring to. The silence, the solitude, maybe the form of the written word itself. The person on the other end of this statement, the reader, is baffled because they’re thinking more of the escape and stories. Readers like the physical act but the most pervasive part is surely the story. And the most pervasive reason to not be a reader is surely dislike of the physical act. tories are like films. Many who don’t like reading do like films, or plays, or music, or games.
A person might not be good at reading, therefore they dislike it. To read would be to slog, a chore when they could be doing something fun. This brings us to the other side of the argument, that the statement is true – there’s such a range of books out there; genre, age, reading level. We could say a person who doesn’t like reading because they find it hard just hasn’t found a book at their level… but then if the person is dyslexic, for example, that might mean a book with a story too young for their age.
Audiobooks? Not all readers listen (I rarely do), so we couldn’t exactly give credence to that as an option; same with graphic novels.
It really depends. We can’t just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but we can’t discount the possibility that there’s a book out there for everyone. It’s one of those per person deals – it depends on personal situations.
I disagree with the statement myself because reading, whilst lauded and important, is a hobby – at least in the context of the statement. And the fact it’s deemed unnecessary (when placed against food, water, shelter) puts some people off.
July 20, 2016, 2:48 am
People don’t read for all sorts of reasons, and I think it’s rather strange to claim that being a reader is the norm and that given the right circumstances everyone will learn to like reading. That’s akin to saying that under the right circumstances I will learn to like watching sport, which is something that will never, ever happen. :)
I think that some people can be a bit elitist about the whole reading thing. It’s not really anyone’s business what other people choose to do with their spare time. Some people like to read and others don’t. Each to his or her own, I say.
July 20, 2016, 3:15 pm
I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head :-)
July 20, 2016, 3:41 pm
I don’t know what to say. I want to believe that there is a book out there for every person, but I also think that reading “that” book doesn’t mean you’ll like others, even if they are similar.
And I agree that people who say they don’t like to read, they mean the act of reading, not the stories themselves. After all, all the children love to be told stories and read children books with their parents, so I suppose it has something to do with your upbringing.
BTW, I recently read an article about a man who discovered that some people can’t “see images in their minds”. They don’t “daydream”, and the article said that this man thought “he wan’t reading well” because he wasn’t hooked on the stories as we (people who can visualize the scenes and characters in our minds) did. So, can this be also a reason why some people don’t “like” reading? Maybe there are other factors apart from habits, upbringings, and right books ;)
July 20, 2016, 7:22 pm
As Isi said, I would like to believe there is a book out there for everyone, but I don’t know that that would translate to enjoying reading.
I agree with much of what you said here, Charlie. Not everyone enjoys reading just like not everyone (me) enjoys cooking. There are a lot of reasons someone might not like to read–from natural causes to taste to lack of exposure. And goodness knows there are plenty of other hobbies and interests people can be involved in.
I think what bugs me is when someone is proud of the fact they don’t (like to) read and brags about the fact. Or my coworker who once told me she grew out of her reading phase, as if it was something only the young or immature might like to do.
July 20, 2016, 8:49 pm
I’m with you, I completely disagree with the statement. I mean would anyone ever dream of saying if you don’t like knitting it’s because you haven’t found the right yarn or something else equally inane. As a reader I would love for everyone else to be too, but it is a ridiculous wish and just because a person doesn’t like to read doesn’t mean they are somehow lesser and readers are somehow better. Oh, I’m getting all worked up, so I’ll stop there :)
July 21, 2016, 1:12 am
Yep, totally disagree. And even if it were true (which I don’t think it is), it would still be a really patronizing thing to say. I think that many people could grow to like many activities by trying them out more often, but that doesn’t mean that people can or should invest their time in trying to make that happen.
July 21, 2016, 4:23 pm
Oh my goodness, I think this all the time and on occasion even hear myself vocalising it out loud.
One of my gripes as a teaching assistant was how many primary school aged children (boys in particular) seemed to
be put off reading by being forced to read books they had no interest in. Give them something that interested them (whether that be a story about a princess, a pirate, football etc) and I found books/reading held much more appeal.
July 24, 2016, 2:52 am
This is a great topic to discuss. And I have to laugh, because there is a personal aspect to this. I grew up in a family of readers: my mom on her corner of the couch in the living room, her head in a book, not conscious of the noise as we play; my dad, especially on vacation, on a chaise lounge at the pool while we swim; and then going to grandparents’ houses, with large book bookcases filled with books and some strewn on coffee tables. Then, recently, my niece proudly announces to me when visiting after her first hear of college, “Aunty, I didn’t go to the library ONCE!” The girl does not read. Only what she needs for school work, but nothing for pleasure. She, somehow, did not get the gene!
I worry that she does not know the classics, and that she doesn’t see any value in an afternoon of learning, getting insights, enlarging her imagination, engaging in creativity. I know this is my bias, but I also know it’s not a matter of finding the right book, the *point* of reading is lost on her.
But, it is true, Charlie as you described with your friend, when a hobby (or a passion) is so much a part of your life and there is no ability to share and have conversations about it, there had better be more to your connection with that person than the love you do not share.
August 31, 2016, 1:50 pm
Violet: Indeed. And it’s actually not the norm unless we include people who rarely read and don’t wish to read more than that.
Elitist? Definitely. I suppose it’s that whole ‘it’s important to me and so should be important to you’. It’s okay to be baffled by a non-reader but unless you know, know, they would like a book, it’s an each to their own at the end of the day. (And would you really know?)
Isi: I agree. It would be nice; also yes, you may like a book but ‘similar’ doesn’t mean similar enough – look at all the ‘the next Gone Girl!’ that people dispute once they’ve read it. And do you necessarily want to keep reading similar books? Definitely – upbringing can have a lot to do with it, as well as the people you are around at the present time (not thinking here of wanting to please people but of the way we tend to surround ourselves with those we like).
I’d say it could be. I expect it would be difficult if you could never imagine anything because you wouldn’t have anything to root you in the setting and you’d probably lose out on contexts and so forth.
Literary Feline: And on that note there could be a book for everyone but the book might be more of an ‘I liked it enough but it’s not going to make me jump into another’. Yes, if we spent a lot of time doing what we didn’t like (things we didn’t have to do – oh to not have to do chores!) that wouldn’t be much fun at all.
I want to use many exclamations to my yes!!! I’ve had someone brag about the fact they didn’t read. Their life was more interesting than fictional books, apparently.
I kind of feel a bit better about it knowing about your ‘reading phase’ coworker. I’d thought it a one off (hoped!).
Stefanie: Indeed. I think there’s a problem in that reading is promoted so much so there is that atmosphere academically and socially of it being better, but whilst it can definitely help it’s not the be all and end all.
Jenny: Yes to patronising. Like Literary Feline’s comment there are lots of hobbies. We can’t do them all.
Tracy: Yep, school putting people off books seems prevalent enough I wonder why something hasn’t been done about it. Not saying we should stop Literature classes but there are so many books to choose from and it seems to pay dividends when age appropriate books are chosen.
Laurie: Bliss! I actually found out a relative was a reader only recently; even after all this time it was awesome to hear. Regarding your niece, it makes me wonder if she had to read boring books at school. Or is it possible she’s currently seeing not being a reader as being unique, her individuality within the family setting? I know I’ve known people who’ve been open about not reading in their younger years and then they do a 180 later on.