Why is that reading is seen as something ‘geeky’ and ‘weird’? I’ve had a couple of incidents at work where I’ve been openly teased for my love of books and the sheer enjoyment I get out of losing myself in a fictional world. We have this points system in the hotel where I work; if you sign a guest up for our rewards club, you receive a certain amount of points, if you’re mentioned by name in a review, again, you receive points. These points have monetary value and can be exchanged for a gift card for any shop of your choosing. I happened to mention that I was thinking of exchanging mine for an Amazon gift card so I could buy some books and I was instantly met with statements like “Eugh, I forgot you’re really weird and read.” and “It makes me so sad that you’d spend money on books.” There are some people who perceive me as something of an oddball for reading and while I don’t, quite frankly, give a shit, I’m still intrigued to know the reasoning behind it. Here are some of my theories:
We live in an ‘instant society’
Everything has an instantaneous nature to it these days. From the fast food restaurants where we can collect our meals in less than five minutes, to Amazon who deliver our orders in less than 24 hours, we can see evidence of our 21st century ‘instant society’ everywhere. In a world as fast paced as ours, most people like things to be quick and convenient and the reading of books certainly isn’t quick nor, to some extent, convenient. Collectively, as a species, humanity loves it stories, be it folklore tales and urban legends or the latest celebrity scandal and nowadays, these stories are accessible in many forms; movies, TV shows, podcasts…the list goes on. People can hear the entirety of a story in anything from twenty minutes to two hours. Perhaps some people just don’t see the point in setting aside time specifically for reading. Why spend two days reading a book when you can watch the movie adaptation in a single afternoon? Are we perceived as lazy for wanting to spend our time leisurely, for wanting to savour the intricate details leading up to a book’s dramatic finale? Do people think we should be squeezing as much as possible into our day-to-day lives, going to the gym post movie watching session as opposed to having a quiet afternoon to ourselves with a good book?
Some people see reading as childish
In its simplest definition, stories are ‘make believe’ and because ‘make believe’ is the product of someone’s imagination, there are those who believe that reading is childish. How wrong this is, though! It’s been proven that readers are way more empathetic that the average person – being able to get into the minds of characters from all walks of life makes us more understanding to the plights of others and, consequently, makes us empathetic. Being an empathetic person is difficult. Watching the news and seeing the atrocities committed on a daily basis is tough. It can leave us feeling helpless, depressed and anxious and this is why our reading is important for us. It gifts us with much-needed escapism and many people don’t understand this. They simply think we while away our time living in a land of ‘make believe’. They don’t understand that reading is something fundamental and crucial to us and isn’t just a superficial, passing fancy.
Perhaps a strange point, but does jealous play a part in the teasing bookworms are subjected to? Now, when we talk about our favourite books…man, we really talk. Nothing quite induces a 20 minute passion-filled monologue quite like a favourite book or fictional boyfriend does.
Is there an element of jealousy at play when people retort to our happy ramblings with a sarcastic, uncalled for remark? Perhaps people are jealous of the fact that we can be fulfilled by things completely and utterly external from day-to-day life?
I both understand and appreciate that not everyone was brought up with books. My love for reading was ignited by the books read to me as bedtime stories when I was a child. Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but this isn’t the case for everyone and I’m not here to pass judgment on any parent who doesn’t read to their child. That’s not my place. My point is more that some people just genuinely don’t get the concept of reading because it’s not something that has played a central role in their life. Perhaps outdoor excursions or music lessons took on this role and that’s fine. Reading isn’t for everyone, but people should be respectful of the fact that others do enjoy it. You don’t understand why I read? That’s fine, I don’t understand why you play football but I don’t make mean spirited comments about it.
An unwillingness to handle the minutiae of books (minutiae is a new word I learnt today, yay, go me!)
I feel this point kind of links in with my first. There are some people who don’t necessarily need or want the finer details behind a story. Newspapers and internet articles are about hard fact (well, allegedly anyway) and nothing more. Books, however, are more padded out. Books don’t just give us a simple statement; they give us the how and the why, things some people aren’t always interested in.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!