Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

People With Reading-Apathy and Reading-Prejudice

Some folks have read way more books than they can remember.

Others have read just as much and can recall every scene and even quote from the books.

Seems, though, that our culture is experiencing a trough in its graph of reading.

“What about all those e-books people are buying?”, you might ask.

It appears our digital culture has not only twitterized us but also teaches us to consume but not chew our books.

An article in The CuratorReading and Resistance, has this to say:

“Experts estimate that as many as 100,000 words now pass by our eyes and ears each day (for comparison, the complete text of Paradise Lost is only 80,000 words)….yet meanwhile we continue to hear reports that nearly a third of Americans did not read as much as one book in the past year….when it comes to anything longer than a few hundred words, the text seems to thicken and we have to push back against a surprising amount of resistance.”

I suspect many countries other than America have this Reading-Apathy

They also quote Stephen Colbert talking about the resistance to clicking the Read More link:

“Clicking on a story is huge commitment. First you have to aim the cursor, then it takes about two seconds to load, then I have to scan the thing to find out how long it is. And if I want to back out I have to reload the page where I came from. Now as many as eight seconds have passed and I’m that much closer to the cold embrace of death.”

Naturally, there are also people who have Reader-Prejudice; and, remember, prejudice doesn’t mean a person can’t choose to not read certain kinds of books, it means, “An adverse judgement or opinion formed beforehand without good justification”.

Let’s look at FlavorWire‘s, Literary Snobs: A Ranked Taxonomy [ do, please following that link and read the whole article :-) ] :

10. People who only read books written by people they can tweet at

9. People who don’t read anything written after the 1800s

8. Ulysses snobs

7. The “I’m not really interested in commercial fiction” type

6. David Foster Wallace diehards

5. Zadie Smith haters

4. The “adults shouldn’t read YA novels” types

3. Translation snobs

2. New Yorkers

1. Male writers who don’t get that there is a difference between postmodern/transgressive and creepy/misogynistic/dumb (and the people who defend them)

Then, there’s an article that takes into account Reading-Apathy and reasons that it can be caused by Reading-Prejudice.

Matt Haig has the article, 30 things to tell a book snob, in BookTrust, where he says:

“…people should read books. Books are good.

“But many are intimidated. One of the reasons people are put off reading is snobbery. You know, the snobbery that says opera and lacrosse and Pinot Noir and jazz fusion and quails’ eggs and literary fiction are for certain types of people and them alone?”

I encourage you to go read Matt’s rejoinders for book snobs :-)
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2 responses to “People With Reading-Apathy and Reading-Prejudice

  1. Sean Berry December 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I’m definitely #7 on the literary snob list.
    There’s a short article that appeared in the May 2013 issue of Smithsonian magazine that recounts the invention of the “pocket size” paperback book in the late 1930s, and how with making books cheap and portable, readership went up. It then draws parallels to the tablet/e-reader explosion.
    It seems to be a fact that readership has gone up with the sales of tablets. And that’s a good thing. However, I do agree with you that it seems to be more of “reading-lite”. If you read a paragraph here, a few sentences there, another paragraph there, any nuance or depth has gone out the window. With the number you quoted, 100,000 words per day, it’s impossible to get a deep understanding of anything.
    I hope that tablets will be a gateway for deeper, more serious reading and break down reading prejudice and reading apathy.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai December 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm


    First, thanks for that link.

    And, 100,000 words a day is phenomenal, though, those are words that we see, not necessarily consciously apprehend

    In Fact, I got a new tablet for Christmas and the temptation to load every app in the world did taunt me—luckily, I’m in my sixties and have learned a bit of restraint—still got a nice complement of apps, focusing on Reading, Writing, and Publishing—with just a dash of fun :-)


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