Why We Don't Read

The 7 Poorest Excuses With Easy Fixes for Each

A hardcover book closed and unread on a windowsill

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Studies conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts show that Americans, in general, don't read much literature. But, the question I always want to ask is, "why?" Are there solutions to reverse the problem and make reading literature a more popular activity? Here are a few reasons I've heard people use to explain why they haven't picked up a good book in months (or even years) and some solutions to get you reading.

Not Enough Time

Think you just don't have the time to pick up a classic? Take a book with you everywhere and instead of picking up your cell phone, pick up the book! Read it in line, in waiting rooms, or while you are in a carpool line. Try reading short stories or poems if you just can't fit in a longer work. It's all about feeding your mind — even if it's only one bit at a time.

Not Enough Money

These days, not having money is no excuse not to read! You have so many options available to you. Visit your local used bookstore. Not only can you buy books for cheaper, but you can trade in books you've already read (or those books you know you will never get around to reading).

Visit the bargain section of your local new bookstore. Some bookstores don't mind if you read the book while you're sitting in the store in one of their comfortable chairs. (Sometimes, they even let you drink coffee while you read.)

Why not read literature on the internet or from your handheld device. Check out books from the library, or simply exchange books with your friends. There are always ways to find books to read. It just takes some creative thinking to come up with ways to find books!

Not Enough Experience

The best way to learn what to read is by reading everything you can get your hands on. You'll gradually learn what you enjoy reading, and you'll start to make connections between books (and connect those books to your own life). If you don't know where to start, or you find yourself stuck for what to read somewhere along the way, ask a librarian, a bookseller, a friend, or a teacher.

Find someone who enjoys reading books, and find out what he or she likes to read. Join a book club. The book selections are usually chosen by the group, and the discussions may help you come to a better understanding of literature.

Too Tired

If you're engrossed in a book that you enjoy, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. You may also find enjoyment in reading a good book while you're drinking a cup of coffee or tea. The caffeine may help to keep you awake, while you enjoy your reading.

Another idea: You could also try reading at times when you're not tired. Read on your lunch hour, or in the morning when you first get up. Or, find a few minutes here or there to sit down with your book. One other point: the experience of falling asleep while reading a book is not a horrible one. You may have marvelous dreams as you fall asleep with a good book.

The Multimedia Experience

If you'd really rather be watching the television or a movie, you may enjoy reading the book upon which the movie was based — before you watch it. If you're in the mood for adventure, mystery, or suspense, perhaps you haven't found books that match your tastes. There are countless classics that have been turned into movies including "Sherlock Holmes," "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Jack London's "Call of the Wild," or Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," Agatha Christie or J.R.R. Tolkien.

Too Hard

Reading isn't always easy, but it doesn't have to be hard. Don't pick up the huge books, if you know that you'll never have the time or energy to finish them. We read books for many reasons, but you don't have to feel that it's an academic experience (if you don't want it to be). You can read the book to enjoy it.

You can pick up a book and have an unforgettable experience: laugh, cry, or sit on the edge of your seat. A book doesn't have to be difficult to be a great read! Read about "Treasure Island." Join the adventures of "Robinson Crusoe" or "Gulliver's Travels." Have fun!

It's Not a Habit

Make it a habit. Make a point of reading literature on a regular basis. It may not seem like much to read for just a few minutes a day, but it doesn't take much to get into the habit of reading. And, then, try reading for longer periods of time (or reading with a greater frequency throughout the day). Even if you don't enjoy reading books for yourself, why not read a story to your child? You're giving them a great gift (which will prepare them for school, for life, and also be an important bonding experience with you). Share a poem or a short story with a friend.

It's not difficult to make books and literature a part of your life, you just have to start a little at a time.