I just started a new book. This is nothing new for me. Ask my husband, I am constantly starting a new book or just finishing up an old book. One of my favorite aisles in any store is the book section, perusing selections until I find a title I can't live without. However, just the other day, I learned that my obsession with finding the perfect book isn't one I share with as many people as I thought.
According to an article published in the July 19, edition of Newsweek the number of books being published increased by 58 percent between 1993 and 2003, while the number of people reading those books decreased by 14 percent between 1992 and 2002. The same article, which used information from a study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, also notes that the age group that saw the biggest decline in readers was the group of people ages 18 to 34. The number of readers in that age group dropped by 28 percent between 1992 and 2002.
I was shocked when I read these numbers, both because I am an active reader and because I fall into the 18 to 34 age group. I just figured that most people my age, were like me and were out there scouring book stores for interesting titles. I see now that I was wrong.
My interest in reading is something I think my parents started for me when I was a child. I remember my mother would sit down and read books with me when I was really young. As I got older I remember, eagerly awaiting book sales in elementary school, and getting to choose a couple of titles to take home.
Reading is a hobby that continued for me all the way through middle school and high school. I like to think that by the time I graduated from high school I had read just about every fiction book I was interested in at the local library.
I will admit that by the time college came around, I did a lot less recreational reading. I was just telling my husband this morning that during those four years of my life I was too busy being forced to read things I didn't necessarily want to that I didn't have time to read for fun.
Looking back I can remember being so excited when I graduated because I realized that reading was going to be fun again.
I am also somewhat of an obsessive reader. I think I get a little greedy. For as long as I can remember I have been someone who once I find an author I like, I read nothing but their books until I have read every book that author has written. I remember reading every Sue Grafton alphabet thriller, until I got to the point in the alphabet that I had to wait for Grafton to finish writing the next book before I could read it. I lost patience and had to find a new author to obsess about. Over time I have read just about every John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark and I tried to read every Michael Crichton book.
In recent years my obsession has turned to books that run along the same genre as Bridget Jone's Diary. Fun, girl books that make for a really easy read. My only problem is this is still a rather new genre and most of the authors only have one book under their belts, so my author obsession has had to make way for the careful scanning of the book covers, actually seeing if the book might contain something of interest for me. It's such a novel idea, but reading the back of a book cover can actually be helpful.
I can't say that my author obsession has completely been cured by my new favorite genre. I will admit that I found one author I really like - Carole Matthews. I've read all of the books I could find that she had written then I felt like I still needed more. Then I found an interesting tidbit of information, in the "About the Author" section of the book cover. It said that Matthews had written several books that had been published in England. That was all the information I needed. I instantly got on Ebay, typed in Carole Matthews and bid on three of her books that were being sold by people in Europe. I now own all of her books, and now I feel satisfied.
Truthfully, I think reading is one thing that can offer a person a feeling of satisfaction. I love the feeling I get when I finish a book. Reading that last page, closing the book, setting it down and sitting there contemplating everything I just read is something I always look forward to.
I guess what I'm trying to say, is I just don't understand why fewer and fewer people are reading. I know life can be busy and movies are fun, but there is nothing like flipping through a good book while you're curled up in a comfy chair with a nice hot cup of tea.
. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org