As most of you know, I spent the holidays with my in-laws. For an eleven-day trip, I brought with me eight books, received three more for Christmas, and purchased six more while I was there. I mention these numbers because my in-laws were astounded and confused why a person would need that many books. In fact, it became a bit of a contest to tell me how long it has been since they have each read a book of some sort. (If I did not know any better, I would have thought they collectively decided on a way to torture me.)
This behavior is not out of the ordinary. Why is it that when someone brings up a love of books, non-readers delight in sharing their utter disregard for books? Why brag about not reading anything? Do they think it is going to impress me? Are they doing it to see my reaction? Are they truly proud of their lack of accomplishment in that area?
Do others see similar behaviors in non-readers? What is it that causes this divide?
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Amy – You do bring up some great posts. And yes, I do know that for my one particular niece, she struggles with reading. But one of my sisters-in-law is very educated and a teacher to boot. She is the one who surprises me the most. But yes, I imagine some of the attitude is purely a defensive motion.
Working in adult literacy REALLY opened my eyes to the fact that a lot of people who make a big deal about non reading find reading harder than people who generally enjoy reading. You might not even be able to tell from the way they read out loud, but you might also be able to tell.
because reading is heavily linked to intelligence, I do think as Chris mentioned that this is a defense mechanism. It's easier to place the burden on you than to admit that maybe it's just not fun or easy for them to read.
Try not to let it get you down!
Heidenkind – Oh, I think if you get non-readers to read a book, that is a very GOOD thing! LOL!
I've never really had non-readers brag to me about how long it's been since they've read a book. Usually the non-readers I know wind up trying to read a book after hanging out with me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. 😉
Chris – I never thought of the idea that they might just be defensive. I guess that never crossed my mind because it is not like I am passing judgment on others. I read quietly and as unobtrusively as possible. The others were coming up to me and making a big deal about it. It was just an unusual situation, and I was wondering if others experienced the same thing.
Yes, that's just weird but I suspect it's defensive. They don't want you to think they aren't intelligent so they make a big deal about your reading instead.
Matt – I agree you can't recruit non-readers, but is there any reason for non-readers to brag about their lack of reading? Do you go around bragging about how much you read? I just doesn't make sense to me.
I don't recruit people to reading because you just can't force someone into an activity that he/she has no interest. I cannot be forced into playing football. But I think the “reading behavior” can be contagious, for example, if you go on a trip with friends who are readers. I think many people every once in while would pick up a book to read even if they don't read all the time like we bookworms do.
Lisa – You have to wonder how much TV they watch or how much time on the Internet they spend though. My nieces, with whom I had the biggest debate, will spend hours texting her friends absolutely nothing (I've been on the receiving end of her texts) but insists that reading is boring. My reply is that she has just not found the right book.
I can never understand why some people want to brag that they don't read. I wonder if they are trying to insinuate that they are much busier than we are and really don't have the time to sit that long.
The Kool-Aid Mom – Your thoughts regarding reading being a thing of the past is interesting and one I had not previously considered. I've heard the lack of time thing too, but I bet they are not too busy to watch hours of TV each night!!
Carrie K – I've heard the “too busy” excuse too. My response – if I can get my MBA, work full-time, take care of two children while my husband works second or third shift, and still find the time to read – then being busy is not an excuse. My other response? How much time do you spend on the Internet, watching TV or gaming? I bet they're not too busy for any of that.
Well, I think some non-readers actually think that reading is something of the past, that they are more advanced in this electronic world because they DON'T do it. Some lament not reading more, but they usually claim to not have time. My ex-husband was a proud non-reader and made fun of me for reading. He mocked anything intellectual. Did I mention he's an EX?
Great questions, Michelle 🙂
I've heard the “Oh, I'm way too busy to read” comment so many times. Argh! It's like they insinuate that taking time in my day to sit down and read means I'm lazy or don't have enough to do.
Katrina – I know exactly what you mean. I have been to several friends' homes that literally have no books anywhere. I never understand how they can live like that.
I come from a family of readers, as does my husband but I met a woman recently who proudly informed me that she never read books. I must admit she went way down in my estimation. I really hate bookless homes, they feel soulless to me.
Ceri – I think you get that attitude whenever people realize how passionate you are about reading. Then, they realize that reading is important to you, it is something of which they should be embarrassed.
The reading is boring attitude drives me nuts too. These are the same people who can sit and play video games or watch TV for hours on end, but reading a book is too boring?!? Yeah, right!
Michelle – I'm with you. It really, really bothered me that my sisters-in-law and nieces thought it was so impressive that they didn't read. I think it rather sad and had to bite my tongue a few times to avoid telling them so. Not reading is definitely not something of which you should be proud!
I'm lucky to come from a family of bookworms and most of my friends also love reading. I find that the few people I know who don't read often admit it with a sheepish look, as though they're embarassed that they don't read enough.
What drives me nuts is random people I meet who have the “Ugh, reading's boring” attitude. Uhh, what????
I have noticed this too! People bragging about not reading and laughing about it. Personally, I don't think being a non-reader is something to brag or laugh about. Like you, I don't actively recruit people to reading (except for maybe my husband…I just tell him, if you would pick up one book, I bet you would love it…well, maybe not. He has attention issues!), but I talk about books proudly and it really burns my a** when people scoff at it.