Why Is Reading so Unpopular?

I’m not like other girls—I read. 🀧

Little anecdote: My classmates and I had nothing to do in class one day, so we split into groups and started talking. I mean, they did. I, however, sat on the floor next to a group of girls and opened my phone in order to… read my ebook—what else? One of the girls asked me what I was doing, and I told her that I was reading. She responded with an “Are you a loser” look.

This is just one instance that proved a well-known fact to me: Reading is an unpopular hobby. Which saddens me, for the same reasons that it saddens you. (I’m assuming that you’re a fellow book lover.) Reading has truly made a positive impact on my life, and I will die on the hill that it is a fun and cool activity.

But I feel like the unpopularity of reading is something we’ve just accepted without question, and I wanted to dig deeper as to why reading is so unpopular. And if you don’t think that reading is unpopular, then you can read this article by YouGov.

THE TIME IT TAKES

Image result for Read long gif

Sure, there exist picture books that take less than a minute to read. But most middle grade, young adult, and adult books are a hundred to a couple hundred pages long. I once brought my nearly 500-page copy of We Hunt the Flame to school, and my seatmate recoiled at how long it was. I said that it was gonna take me a month to read, and she said that it was gonna take her a whole year.

According to this site, reading a 300-page book at a page every two minutes would probably take ten hours. Ten hours! Imagine! In a world where search engines load in less than a second, and movies average 2-3 hours, spending ten hours consuming a piece of media just doesn’t seem worth it.

THE BRAIN POWER IT INVOLVES

Image result for no brain cells gif

You and I both know that some books only require one brain cell to read. But, others are harder to decipher. Some have unreliable narrators, confusing world building, and excessive purple prose. And these are just some of the factors that contribute to a more challenging reading experience.

Plus, reading requires more work in the imagination department because it doesn’t provide you with images behind a monitor. Even the simple act of reading already demands more concentration compared to staring at a screen.

REQUIRED READING

Related image

According to wikipedia, Reverse psychology is a technique involving the assertion of a belief or behavior that is opposite to the one desired, with the expectation that this approach will encourage the subject of the persuasion to do what actually is desired.

Basically, telling someone what to do will lead them to want to do the exact opposite of what you told them to do. So when teachers tell their students to read, they immediately don’t want to read.

I think required reading turns people away from reading because the books we usually study in school are dense classics that are hard to understand (see what I discussed above). Also, studying books just takes the fun out of them.

THE SILENCE IT REQUIRES

Image result for SHHH b99 gif

Sure, you can alternate between reading and chatting, but you can’t really read and talk at the same time. (If you can then please tell me your secrets.) Since reading is an activity that ideally should be conducted in a silent environment, with no talking on one’s part, choosing to read means choosing not to socialize.

BOOK-TO-SCREEN ADAPTATIONS

Image result for watch the movie gif

Most people nowadays watch the adaptation before reading the book.*gasp* They even go so far as to think that watching the movie is the same as reading the book. *double gasp*

Yep, even if that low budget movie adaptation changed about twenty major plot points and aged up all the main characters, people think that because they watched the adaptation, they already read the book.

What saddens me a little about book-to-screen adaptations is that they perpetuate the mindset that every book worth reading will be turned into a movie (and that that two hour movie will be an easier-to-consume version of the entire book). There are so many great and amazing books that haven’t been turned into movies. And, for me, a book offers way more than its adaptation ever could.

Also, I kinda blame popular book-to-screen adaptations (e.g. Divergent, 13 Reasons Why) for flopping, and giving YA books a bad reputation.

Well, writing this post made me sad, because it reminded me of all the reasons why my favorite hobby.. is one of everyone’s least favorites. But I enjoyed digging a little deeper into exactly why reading came to have this kind of reputation!

I’m all for letting people do what they want, so I get that not everyone wants to read. And I don’t think that being an avid reader makes me better than anyone. I just wish people didn’t look down on this beloved hobby of mine.

Reading does get time consuming, and sometimes it requires too much concentration from me. Maybe I wouldn’t be this introverted if I didn’t read so much. But there’s so much joy in being able to connect with a character, plot point, or quote from a book, and that’s why I’ll always love reading.


do you consider reading as an unpopular activity? do you agree with my reasons? are there any more reasons as to why reading is unpopular?

44 thoughts on “Why Is Reading so Unpopular?

  1. I do think reading is an unpopular hobby, but I’ve been lucky in the way that I always found other people in school who also liked to read. I’m thankful that back in elementary school, when I was super-scared of what others thought of me, the “cool girl” of our class was a big reader, and we were lending books to each other and discussing them, haha. It never became a “loser” thing there, and while I assume some people did think reading is for losers, particularly in high school, there were a lot more who enjoyed reading and I found friends who were big readers. πŸ™‚ The funniest moment for me was in high school when a girl was talking about social media, and she said I must spend a lot of time on it because I’m looking at my phone a lot. She was baffled when she found out I was reading, not scrolling through facebook updates. πŸ˜‚ And that’s my general experience, tbh, people being more surprised and baffled and all “how can you read SO MUCH!?” rather than condescending, or mean, WHICH IS AWESOME, because as a kid I’d have been crushed had I been teased about reading.

    But, btw, even though I love reading so much and read a lot, I tend to downplay the amount of time I spend on reading? I’d say, “I read a lot on the train ride to and back from uni” which is absolutely true, but I can also put aside hours to read at home. Even in my 20s it makes me feel uncomfortable to admit that, because I’m weirdly scared people will think I have no life. πŸ˜‚ Sadly, reading is something a lot of people think is what you turn to when you have nothing better to do, which I don’t think is true.

    Sorry for the long comment! πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ Loved your post, and your reasons for why reading is unpopular are accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah, I’m so happy that it was like that for you when you were younger! It’s amazing that the ‘cool girl’ in your class was a big reader as well! OMG SAME. I’m such an ebook reader, so people just assume that I’m on my phone all the time just to scroll through social media or whatever, but I;m not! I’m just reading!

      Oh, I don’t downplay the time I spend reading, though I probably would if a non-reader were to ask me, but whenever someone asks me the type of books I like to read, I just say “anything”, because I’m embarrassed to say YA. It’s because it has such a bad reputation that I just feel like people will judge me if I tell them that I read YA, even though I’m not reading Twilight or Divergent :((

      It’s okay! I loved reading about your experiences! Thank you so much ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely think reading is unpopular but when you are on book twitter it seems like the most popular thing ever. I remember I was a ‘reading ambassador’ (it is not as fancy as it sounds) so I went to younger class and tried to help them to read and I asked one kid ‘do you like to read?’ and he was like ‘no, I only read my gaming instructions’ so he wasn’t eager to read at all.
    I definitely agree with your reasons as to why they may be unpopular as it does involve sitting down myself and spending lots of time reading which a lot of people don’e have the urge to do and in fact sometimes life gets in the way and people never make time for it.
    Required reading doesn’t help because people form bad memories with reading as well, I think required reading put me off books at one point!!
    Book to movie adaptation don’t help as people do think they don’t need to read the books anymore so the books almost get forgotten when they’re the ones that started it all. Books are really underappreicated!!
    It is a shame to think that it is unpopular but that’s why I’m glad to have the internet so I can find link minded people who know the true that books are amazing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! On book twitter reading seems like the most important thing ever because everyone there just loves to read and talks about books 24/7. No, I think that it’s so cool that you were a reading ambassador! But it’s really sad that a kid responded like that. That’s probably how people my age would respond too :”)
      Yes, the books chosen for required reading are just.. not it. I mean, some are really good, like Charlotte’s Web 😭 But I feel like schools around the world should integrate more modern books into their curriculum. There are so many YA books out there that tackle really important themes, while also being more accessible to teens nowadays. It could truly change students perspective on books, I feel like.
      Yes! I don’t really know any readers in real life, so it’s so nice to be able to connect with people on the Bookternet. It may seem that reading is an unpopular hobby irl, but when I’m on WordPress, Twitter, or Goodreads, reading seems like the most popular thing ever!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is probably why I stick to mingling with friends who can understand my joy of reading.. book twitter and blogger groups is definitely the best place to be… otherwise it just irritates me these days if someone talks down about reading as a hobby… but my family does have the opinion that the kind of books I read (fantasy mostly or romance) are useless and don’t improve my life in anyway and I just don’t have the patience to explain to them what these books mean to me and how they have made me the person I am..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Big same, Sahi! I don’t have any reader friends irl (at least, none who read as much as I do or the same things as I do), so being on the Bookternet is such a comfort!
      Oh, I’m so sorry about that! But, I can relate. I hate that people look down on books now as “nerdy” because they’re not!! Just like when you enjoy playing video games or watching a movie, reading can bring so much enjoyment and feeling to your life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow such a great post! You point out exactly why reading is considerd ‘uncool’!
    It is so sad though, that not many people read! I luckily bhave lots of friends who actually read, which is very nice. But when opening a book in the train or something always gets me some weird looks haah!
    The fact that not may people read also makes me appreciate this book blogging community so much! A good place were we can all share our love of reading!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Evelyn!
      Oh, that is very nice. I wish I could say the same thing about my irl friends. πŸ˜… Right? I always feel a little weird about bringing a physical book outside, bc I feel like I’m being low key judged. Same! Reading may be unpopular in the outside world, but being on the Bookternet reminds me of just how many people actually do like reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely agree that required reading can put a person off of reading in general. Like you’ve said the books that are picked can be quite dense and even if they’re not I never particularly liked analysing books like I had to in class. Maybe it would help if they picked more modern books but if you still had to go into that level of depth perhaps not. I’m not sure what got me into reading tbh but it would be wonderful if more people got into books too. And I’ve been terrible lately at reading the book before seeing the adaptation but I’d never consider it to be the same thing; the books always have so much detail and generally are a lot better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the problem with required reading could improve if we assigned more modern books that are less dense to read and way more relatable to teens nowadays? Many YA books that have been published in this century and even this decade are such perfect required reading material! Though you’re write that analyzing them can really be a b*tch. Sometimes, teachers just give you the meaning of things without letting you interpret it yourself, and that’s just… so annoying. Like, if I’m supposed to read something for class, I want to analyze it, not just memorize whatever a teacher has to say about it.
      It really would be wonderful! Reading is such a great hobby. And I’m terrible at watching movies regardless of whether they are adaptations or not, but same.. I’ll always prefer books πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s definitely true, and a lot of those books always seem to appear on lists of books that you should read in your lifetime – lists aimed at readers of all ages. Plus being assigned Shakespeare year after year can probably put a lot of people off too. That’s true too; you don’t really get to reach your own conclusions a lot of the time – you’re just given the teachers or whatever theory is most popular. And there shouldn’t even be a right or wrong when analyzing fiction. Surely it’s whatever it makes you think of?
        I watch a lot more movies than I used to after getting a cinema card earlier this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right?!!! I feel like the authors of those lists are the same ones that look down on YA, because they “only read classics and literary fiction.” Like, stop. YA books have literary value, and your lists actually *aren’t* accessible to all ages!
        Ugh, thankfully I just had to study Shakespeare once but the kind of English he uses is such a big turn-off. It might as well be in another language.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s very true. I don’t get why so many people look down on YA like that though, there are some really fantastic books within the genre.
        I not only had to study Shakespeare one year but also another play based on some small characters from one of his plays so it was like overload -_- I could never imagine picking up one of his books for fun, it just feels like nonsense.

        Like

  6. This is such a wonderful post! I never really thought about the reasons behind people not reading, despite knowing most people don’t really like to read for pleasure. I think required reading really turns so many people off of reading. I definitely had friends who enjoyed reading until high school rolled around, and that is such a bummer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kal! I really think that more modern books should be made into required reading. I feel like they’d be so easy to analyze, but they’d also be more accessible and relatable to teens. Also, it’s a bummer that some students are just told to memorize everything a teacher says about a book instead of being allowed to analyze it for themselves. I think that also contributes to high schoolers being hateful of reading.

      Like

  7. I completely agree with you and it saddens me too to see people consider my hobby boring or that it immediately makes me a nerd. No one ever made fun of me for reading, thankfully, but they always associated it with me being smart (especially in middle school). That it was a smart person’s hobby and therefore, not worth it for many of them. I’m very glad I found people who also enjoyed reading in high school and I’m even more glad I’ve turned two of my friends into readers!! And obviously, for finding people online. But by what you mentioned, yeah, I wish people would respect our hobby as we respect theirs. I’ve never given much thought to the actual reasons behind people not liking to read, so this was a wonderful post ^^

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes!! I think people associate it with me being an introvert. Which okay… true, but that doesn’t automatically make reading bad! I don’t even think people in my real life associate it with being smart. They just associate it with me being nerdy :((
      But that’s amazing! Seriously, how did you convert not one but two people into reading? I’m always so scared to do that, because I know reading just isn’t for everyone. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, I don’t regret turning those people into readers, but I really don’t know my secret!!
        The first one was a friend from high school. He’d see me reading sometimes and one day, I don’t know how it happened – I don’t know if he asked or I suggested – but I lended him “Gone Girl”. Unfortunately, I wanted to kill my friend. He gave me the book back in terrible conditions (I had to put it through surgery in my table after I got it back, with scissors and black nail polish to fix the cover) but my friend apologized endlessly and I didn’t stay mad for too long because I saw how, after that, he’d read so, so much. They were mostly books about history and politics since he was interested in that, but hey – I did it!
        The second was more recently, and it was my girlfriend. She had always liked reading, I suppose, but only ocasionally. I really don’t know how this one happened because from one day to the other she started to ask to borrow books from me and asking me for recommendations! I suppose I talked too much about my favourite books she got curious πŸ˜›

        Liked by 1 person

      2. wow, that’s amazing! (honestly, would totally love to read a post on that πŸ˜‰ ).
        OMG THAT’S HORRIFIC. But I’m glad that he apologized! I once lent a book out to a friend, and she returned the cover back to me really dirty. I mean, it wasn’t irreparable, but the dirt shouldn’t have been there, and I hate that she didn’t apologize or even seem to notice?! Nowhere near what happened to your copy though, haha.
        Also, you have a girlfriend? Wow, that’s so cool! My single ass cannot relate 😭 And it’s even cooler that she reads as well!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It sucks when people don’t even have the decency to admit they did something wrong/ruined something that doesn’t belong to them. Accidents happen and okay maybe they wouldn’t be able to replace the thing they ruined, but at least apologize!!
        I do have a girlfriend! πŸ˜› We’ve been friends for five years and dating for almost two (I don’t know how I’ve put up with her for so long :P)! I’m sure you’ll find someone if you wanna, but in the meantime dw too much about it, focusing on ourselves is pretty nice too ❀

        Like

  8. i mean, i think reading has become less popular because of technology. out attention spans have decreased so much because of things like social media that it’s very difficult for someone who spends a lot of time on their phone, to read a book, which doesn’t give them instant gratification of notifications, and is instead something a lot slower. i really wish reading becomes a big thing again. i truly believe it’s so magical. especially series. when you grow to love characters like their your own family? when you love, and cry and laugh with them? that’s so BEAUTIFUL. and fiction is truly so under-appreciated. those books that GET you? the characters you love? all such wonderful things people have forgotten. there’s so many things in this generation they have slowly faded out because of phones. (i totally sound like an old hag spurting nonsense about how tech is evil and we should go back to living the olden days. i’m not saying that. phones are great. so is social media. i use them a lot) like letter-writing? can we please re-introduce that because it’s truly enchanting to receive letters, and to write them. anyways this comment is a ramble but i just! appreciate this post sm!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. wow, this comment was beautiful. I one hundred percent agree. I feel like this generation is so used to instant gratification brought about by technology that reading has kinda fallen by the wayside. Ahh, yes, when you truly grow to love a characters whose made of ink and paper as if they were a real person?? THE BEST. And oh yes, letter writing!! i used to do it as a child, and it was so magical. It’s so much more rewarding than getting someone via email or text, because of the stationery someone chose, and the time it took them to hand write the letter. And thank you 😭

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ohh, I love this discussion post!! πŸ₯° I would have never actively considered reading unpopular, but I think it’s because I’m in my little bubble here in the bookish community and surround myself with so much bookish content in all forms – I love that a lot but real life is different. I usually don’t consider this hobby too much, but you’re right because it is very time-consuming compared to all the TV shows, movies, and YouTube currently available that I think can be more accessible as books require a lot of your focus and time! I definitely wish we had a different required reading in high school to encourage people to read instead of putting them off it even more – I liked maybe 2 books in my entire school life πŸ˜… All of this considered, I’m very happy to have bookish friend here, as I definitely need people to gush about books to πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Caro! Yeah, same. But unfortunately, nobody in my real life reads as hardcore as I do, or at least it seems that way :”) That’s why I love the online book community so much—everybody is so dedicated to books. Yeah, I feel like technology just conditioned us to expect instant gratification, but with books, you really have to take your time, but it’s magical either way. Right?! Same! I can only think of two required reading book that I enjoyed, and they were published more recently. I just wish schools would give YA books a chance (not the early 2000s YA, but the more recent YA that’s diverse and has themes of oppression, privilege, etc.), because there’s so much good required reading content in those books AND they are more accessible to teens nowadays. And, ahh, I consider you a bookish friend, Caro, and I’m so happy you’re here πŸ’–

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think reading becomes cooler as you grow older, Caitlin. It wasn’t very popular when I was in high school, either. But I made more bookish friends in college, and now almost all of my adult friends love to read. (Yes, there’s probably some self-selection going on there, too. πŸ™‚ )

    Liked by 1 person

  11. so yes the opening line of this did make me laugh out loud.

    weirdly, reading does feel really unpopular, even though young people read more than any older generation?? so i’m like…where are all the readers then. b/c i’m not seeing them. i mean, i majored in English in college and i STILL didn’t know anyone who read as much as i did?? everything is confusing.

    it did get a little better in college, though – more people thought it was cool that i read, even if they didn’t do much reading themselves. i’m fine with it either way. not like i’m going to stop reading or anything…perish the thought

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you. I’m so happy to know that at least one person finds my jokes funny πŸ˜ͺ

      I know! Why does nobody else I know in real life read like I do? I know there must be someone out there, but I can’t find them! Also, the fact that you still couldn’t them even after majoring in English is.. wow.

      haha, I relate so much. People can think that I’m nerdy and quiet all they want. I’m not gonna stop reading or anything.. perish the thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I do think reading is an unpopular activity. The reasons may vary from people thinking it is a nerdy activity (which, like, y’all shit up) to not having the time to read or preferring other activities.
    When it comes to reading at school, I don’t even care anymore. In the past, I was super conscious about people thinking I’m a loser nerd for reading. But I realized most of my classmates do not give a flying frick. They usually don’t ask what am I doing or, if they do, I’ll just tell them that I’m reading and they would be like”oh, okay”. I’m probably lucky because I’m the nerd of my class and I get the best grades so they kinda expect this from me.
    What I want to say is, don’t feel weird or that you are a loser just because some people don’t like reading. Every activity can be trashed. And you can’t like/dislike everything the other people like/dislike. Reading is your own thing and that’s awesome!

    And don’t be friends with people who don’t respect the things you like, kids!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg, yeah! I think the fact that reading is considered unpopular… is fueled by the fact that reading is unpopular, bc more and more people don’t want to be labeled a nerd.
      Yeah, same. My classmates don’t really care, but I still feel silently judged whenever I bring a book to school with me. And it does hinder me from making more friends, because instead of talking, I’m reading.
      Ah, that’s so comforting Daria! And very true.

      Ofc not! I’m happy that at least one of my best friends is into reading! I mean, not as hardcore into me, but she’s into it!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think the perception *of* reading as something uncool creates a feedback loop of unpopularity. Plus, much as I love the online bookish community, it can be a little… I’ma go with ‘pernickety’ …about the little things.

    I’m a firm fan of reading being *for everyone* – and that includes comics and fanfiction (that’s part of my evil plan to lure people in… wait, forget you heard that!)

    I’m also a fan of not sweating the small stuff – I watch films before reading the books, love film adap. covers, book stickers (the printed ones especially!) and series with mismatched covers and sizes. None of my books stay in oerfect condition because I fling them into whatever bag I happen to be carrying at the time, and read them with food and coffee v. much present! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! That’s a reason that I thought about when I was first making this post, but then I decided against it, haha. With the existence of peer pressure and everybody being more inclined to follow trends, it’s no surprise that reading has fallen more and more by the wayside.

      I never thought of it that way! I always viewed reading as something that may or may not work for you. It would definitely work for more people if they actually tried to read, but for me, reading just isn’t for everyone. Though maybe that’s just because I know movies will never be for me :”)

      Yes! I always get so confused when people act like watching the adaptation before reading the book is a bad thing. It’s really not a big deal! And I read ebooks anyway, so different covers don’t really affect me. I’m sure your books must look really loved :))

      Liked by 1 person

  14. aaa, i love this post so much! it was so real and much needed. i’m currently annotating a book, and having previously read it, annotating sucked the life out of the characters and dialogue. and film adaptations! they’re fun to see, but they should never be an alternative to the author’s unique ideas. it’s just different.

    i just discovered your blog from sophie, and it looks super cool!! hopefully, i can read some more of your future posts :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much 😭 Haha, I feel you—that’s why I never reread. I feel like it sucks the life out of the story, because I already know what happens? I’m the only one who thinks that way though. Yes! I hate what’s been done with certain adaptations, and most of the time, the film doesn’t even try to be a faithful adaptation.

      Ahhh, that’s amazing to know! I hope you can too :)) and sophie is the absolute best!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I definitely agree that required reading turns a lot of people off. I wish teachers would update their reading lists and stop only teaching old books by old white cis guys that are mostly irrelevent now and only further sexism and racism. I get that in English class they have to teach about writing devices and stuff but they could easily do that with the more modern classics instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! Kids need to read more diversely! The fact that books give voices to marginalized reading is one of the greatest things about literature, and most kids aren’t being able to experience that. And I speak from experience because most of the books I get assigned to read in school are by white cis men.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s