A Non-Reader’s Call to Action

This essay was written by Brandon Monk.

A third (one out of three) of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Forty-two (42%) percent of college graduates never read another book after college. Eighty percent (80%) of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. (Source: Jenkins Group)

What are we doing? Watching reality TV? We sure aren’t reading.

Those statistics have to change. Do those statistics explain the reason some people still think dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time as man? Maybe.

Most reading blogs are for young readers or teachers. I suspect many of you are neither, like me. We all should read, not only teachers and students.

We need a reading revolution. After the Gutenberg press a reading revolution occurred. E-reading devices (Kindle, Nook, iPad) have the same potential. Let’s create a new reading Renaissance. Stop anticipating the end of the world and start understanding the world.

I went to high school and read as assigned. I went to college and read for grades. I went to law school and read fearing I would be called on to participate. I plead guilty to reading for the wrong reasons. Recently, I started reading because I love it and I want to share the experience.

Humans innately strive to understand the world so we can make sense of our lives. Reading is an essential way to do this. Not the only way, but an essential way.

Read for reasons other than a grade. Read to make life worth living. Start to read motivated by life instead of tests and you will enjoy it. Reading doesn’t invoke the same psychic scream it did in school.

Other blogs talk about books and review books but few focus on the art of reading. I’m not about to start prescribing reading material. Ideas about what you want to read? Focus on those ideas and run with them. We will probably talk about some books, but if you don’t want to read them, don’t.

Did you know there are funny books? Read humor if that’s your cup of tea. I don’t care as long as you’re reading.

Weigh in on a conversation, educated. Arm yourself by reading.

I know there’s a book you dream of reading, admit it to yourself.

Do you regret going through school doing the bare minimum, even if you made the grades? Do you regret having given no book a chance other than to understand the cliff notes version and pass a test? I did.

Ever failed at reading a book? We all fail! Get over it and move on like a professional.

Does TV fill your entertainment hours like high fructose corn syrup fills your belly? Shit-can it, at least until you get your reading done.

Do you think you can learn it all from YouTube or TV or class lectures? Wrong. You need books to converse with the truly great minds of all-time.

You will gradually come into reading like you would gradually prepare to run a particular distance like a marathon.

I realize magazines review books, but the problem isn’t finding a book. You aren’t reading at all or enough or the right way. Other readers develop opinions about books, but I bet you have opinions. Don’t live life regurgitating the opinion you hear. Form your own.

4 simple rules:

1. Read what you want to read.

2. Learn what you want to learn.

3. Write about it if the mood strikes you.

4. Do it every day.

As a reader you need to stop making excuses based on age, pace, or time. You have time. I reject the other excuses.

No hidden agendas allowed. Don’t start out reading to impress other people. Read for yourself and for pleasure.

As a rule attitudes are justifiers of behavior rather than causes of it. This means you need to start thinking of yourself as a reader today. Now.

Achievement motivates so set a goal, say 10 pages a day and stick with it.

Take time to reflect and see how far you’ve come. It may help to track your reading progress so you  visualize it.

You are a reader. You began the journey the minute you found this blog. Ride the momentum. That’s the new challenge. You have already begun.

Each day share your reading experience. Don’t flaunt it, but share it, so people know it’s important to you.

Joseph Campbell says, “a hero is someone able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations.” Step up to the plate and accept the role.