Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why am I still Reading David Copperfield?

Before we left class this morning, the last topic we were discussing was why people spend much less time reading now than they did in the past. This topic interested me because over the winter break I had been asking myself a similar question. I have been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for the past five months, and I am not even half way through it. The book is really interesting, and I love it, but I find that I can spend hours watching Lost but can not dedicate that same amount of time to reading. I feel that our lives have become so busy that we cannot afford to give all our attention to one subject. When watching T.V., I could be washing dishes, and talking on my phone at the same time, and everything works out. However when reading, I need all my attention focused on one area, and with so much to do it is easier to do what is more convenient.

I also feel that in our society, reading has become something that people do in their free time. If it is not required, most people feel that they can use that time to do better things. In addition to that, our world with the internet and all our high speed technology is moving much faster than it did in the past. People are becoming used to having everything made “instant”, and it is hard to fit the act of reading a book, word for word, into our high-speed world.


  1. Not only are there many diverse options for things to occupy time, but there is probably less free time. When I go on a break from school, I love to read. The ideal vacation for many people is to go to a beach and read a book. It is a relaxing and entertaining past time. Unfortunately, during the school year, it is difficult to stay up-to-date with homework. Reading for pleasure barely fits into the modern college student's schedule. Today, the "time is money" mentality has people rushing around, worrying more about school and jobs than personal development. The opportunity cost for enjoying an hour of reading is usually an hour of sleep or an hour of studying.

    I am also still reading a book that I started over summer (Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut), but between classes and activities, I still have a substantial amount of reading left to do. It is not that I do not want to read, it is simply a matter of time and priorities.

  2. Sadly, I cannot argue against the fact that the majority of people in America do not identify themselves as “readers,” anymore. Literary works are still being written, published, and bought, possibly at even higher production rates than in previous generations due to constantly improving technology, yet the actual number of people who read novels for a pastime seems to be dwindling rapidly. I blame this disinterest towards reading on our relentless search for new and more efficient ways of doing things. America is becoming lazy. We have so many simple and mindless options to fill out time with now, that something that requires our undivided attention and provokes thoughts seems unappealing to too many Americans who are searching for an activity that will simply lay their thoughts out for them, such as television. Granted, our lives are becoming increasingly busier, so simplifying them is always a perk, but when that perk takes away from something as basic and essential as reading literature, is it really worth it?

  3. I agree with all three of you. The problem for me and my extra reading is definitely time constraints. I've started 2 books over the past couple of months and haven't finished either of them. I've always loved to read and usually always had a book I was working on, even when I was younger (like elementary school age) I was a little book worm. :) But now, I read the books I am assigned to read and continue to put off the ones I want to read on my own.
    Also, I do believe America IS lazy, just like what was said in class. There are so many things on the internet and TV, people really don't have to leave their houses if they don't want to. I am not a person who can sit in front of the TV all day or just play on facebook forever, I just have a lot to do, and it seems like it's only adding up even more as I get older... oh well, we can't force lazy people to read, hopefully one day it will all come back in "style".

  4. I also agree with everyone, and I think the perfect term to sum this all up is “instant gratification.” These days, it’s so much easier and less time consuming to go watch the Harry Potter movies than to actually read the series. Technology has provided us with so many instantaneous methods of enjoyment. I love reading, but if I were given the option to go watch a movie with friends or to stay in and read, sadly I would probably choose the movie. It’s faster and I get to spend time with my friends—it’s like killing two birds with one stone. People these days have to choose wisely how they spend their time of leisure, and I think most people want to maximize that time by fitting in as much as possible. Therefore books, which result in delayed gratification, are put to the side. Like Sharee said, hopefully people will come around to reading for enjoyment again one day. My guess is that as the world becomes increasingly fast paced with technology, eventually people will want to cling onto something like reading that allows one to escape, if only for a few hours.

  5. I agree, and am also guilty. I have been read "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce since the beginning of the fall semester. I'm sure its an awesome book, and it has been highly recommended to me, and I do one day plan on finishing it. However, over the break, when I had tons of free time did I pick it up? No, of course not. Instead I reread the entire Harry Potter series. I guess because although I do enjoy reading and "dissecting" a good work of literature, it isn't easy and requires lots of thinking (imagine that!). Another point I have to make is that reading, as someone else mentioned isn't really "in style". How often do you hear people gushing to their friends, "omg! You HAVE to read this book!". Unfortunately, not that often. I think its human nature to want to fit in and be able to chime in when friends/coworkers are chatting about the latest episode of whatever, therefore when they have free time, they watch these shows/movies. Or is it the other way around? Are these shows/movies talked about so much because they are watched so much? As usual, I've managed to confuse myself...