How "Important" is Reading?

I’d be in the five-a-week category easily. But then again, my whole family reads like crazy. I apparently taught myself to read when I was four. I read REALLY fast. Unless I’m unusually busy, I go through about a book a day, or so. This counts rereading, because I don’t have much of a book budget, and I try to get the most I can out of it.

Same here. I am also a speed reader, and read, on average, 5-6 books a week, of at least 200 pages each. Yes, I am able to retain a lot even though I read quickly. I also have two small children that I stay home with, and I’m a full time college student during the school year. I wind up reading less during the school year - maybe 2-3 books a week, but it is my main indulgence.

I do wind up judging people who claim they don’t like to/don’t have time to read. My husband and I went to a party at someone’s house a few years back. We toured the whole house apart from the master bedroom, and NO books, papers, magazines anywhere. No way I could live that way. I wondered what they did all night. :wink:

I have nothing against TV per se, but I’d rather read or be on the computer.

whiterabbit, I grew up in a family liek yours. We all sat around the dinner table reading almost every night! We didn’t have a lot of money, but we always had lots of books, and my sister and I were allowed and encouraged to read any of them. My kids enjoy books a lot too, and have tons.

Oh, yes, if I’m visiting my mom, we’ll both read over meals. I can read while I do ANYTHING. A friend of mine was vastly amused by seeing me read while I brushed my teeth. What, most people don’t DO that…?

My entertainment money goes almost entirely for books. I see very few movies, and I don’t rent them much because I always return them late. I love my books. Though I really need to weed through them and send some to a used book store. Then I can get MORE books! :slight_smile:

I honestly can’t imagine life without reading. I do about three books a week. As I grew up, I always saw my mom with a book in her hands. Naturally I picked up the same habits. I read while I am cooking, eating, bathing, brushing my teeth, talking on the phone, riding the bus, waiting for class to start, during class, etc. I’ve usually got two or three books that I am working on scattered throughout the house, and all of my books (unfortunely) have teeth marks from when I needed my hands free to stir dinner and didn’t want to put my book down. It’s a little compulsive. At restraunts I’ll find myself reading the menus over and over again just so that I’ll be reading something. I can’t sleep unless I spend at least a few minutes reading. I think it kind of freaks some people out.

I know quite a few people that “don’t read”, and I just can’t wrap my head around the concept. Reading is so natural to me- almost an addiction, I’d say, that I can’t really picture it not being a part of my life style.

As far as the value of reading…Reading newspapers is absolutely essential. TV news is barely news at all. I think it is all of our responsibility to do our best to be an informed electorate and to understand the events of the world around us. This is a moral issue in my mind. Novels and the like arn’t really as much of a moral issue for me, but I certainly think that reading a lot of them can give a person insight and understanding that they wouldn’t have had before. Reading can give a person a more complex, nuanced world view, and that is certainly a good thing.

I’m a film major, so obviously I think cinema uses as complex and amazeing a language as the written word. I watch movies in class, and I probably watch about five movies a week. I don’t even own a television, though. Television programming uses a less interesting language than cinema (TV is far more sound based than image based, for example) and the time spent crafting television programs is usually counted in days, not month and years, so IMHO, television is rarely as useful or important as movies.

So yeah, reading isn’t really important to me, as much as essential. When I went traveling for a month, I brought only one book (Lolita). I ended up reading that book about eight times. I find it shocking that so few people read, but I guess it is too be expected in a nation that doesn’t even have the attention span for the morning paper.

Question: What’s the difference between someone who cannot read and someone who does not read?
Answer: Nothing.

Having said that. . .

I agree completely. Someone who watches the History channel on a regular basis is probably better off than someone who only reads Harlequin romance novels, while somone who reads more thought-provoking novels (such as Animal Farm or Roots) may be better off than both.

Plus, they have a crucial rail line between Income Tax and Oriental Avenue.
Lisa (helping Homer fill out a college application): Dad, don’t let these application essays throw you. Let’s see; “List your three favorite books and how they’ve influenced your life.”
Homer: Is “TV Guide” a book?
Lisa: No.
Homer: “Son of Sniglet”?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Katherine Hepburn’s “Me”?
Lisa: No!
Homer: Oh, I suck.

Hey! I actually resent that, because I’ve been getting stuff like it most of my life- ‘you don’t really read that fast’ or ‘you’re just doing it to show off.’

Who reads to show off? I mean, really, it’s not that much fun or that impressive to watch someone else reading. I don’t wear a little sign that says ‘I’ve read six books already this week!’

I read for fun. I always have. My speed doesn’t feel unusually fast to me, although I wouldn’t think anything of people who read at different speeds. What does it matter how fast somebody reads, as long as they have stuff they enjoy?

Yeah, I read at least five books a week. Usually more, unless I’m really busy at work.

But I think the question is flawed, because reading five books will take me 10-15 hours. Not that much, really. For other people, one book will take that long. Maybe we should be asking how much TIME people spend reading, instead of how many books. I spend somewhere between one and three hours a day reading, usually during meals, before going to sleep, and to kick back after work. Not that excessive, really. Probably not much different than some of those one-or-two book a week people.

I don’t measure how many books I read in a week, but rather how many I am reading at one time. Right now, I have three books going - one is related to my profession, one is related to my political leanings, and one is related to some possible future endeavors I might pursue. I move in and out of each as my interest deems, which helps to ensure - for me anyway - that I absorb as much as I can from any one book rather than reading it start-to-finish-in-a-go because that’s how many folks seem to do it.

So, if I read six books in a month, but completed them all at the end of the month… it would skew my position in the poll.

I don’t think Reading is any more important than Short Line, B&O, or Pennsylvania.

I read a lot; maybe not five books per week, but maybe at least two or three. Reading is very important to me, as it probably helps develop my vocabulary, comprehension, and other attributes. It’s transported me to other worlds, helped me with issues in my life, and contributed to my perspective on life.


I’m probably in the 3 to 4 books a week category, but hows this for a Startrek moment. Since I got a Palm handheld, I haven’t read a single book (on paper obviously). I love the palm reading experience, take 7 or 8 books everywhere you go and just set the autoscroll on max and read, even works lying in bed, no more turning pages. Or lights on for that matter which allows my SO to get to sleep before me for her early mornings at the moment.

I can’t suggest enough that anyone who loves books gets one. All books available online that you can imagine (at for example, they’re a bit pricey though, look around and you’ll get better deals. Cough!).


It’s interesting that you brought this up. A friend of mine (who got her masters in library science) and I discussed this recently. She said that studies (probably a few years old) said that online books would never be able to replace books. It had something to do with the fact that resolution/contrast on a computer screen is too hard on the eyes, and does not lend itself to reading for long periods of time. If I were more scientific, I could explain it better, but I’m not, so I won’t. Have you, personally, noticed any effects from reading electronic books for long periods at one time (eye strain, etc.)?

I have a “Library of the Classics” CD that helped me when I was in college - except I used it to print the stories out rather than buy all of the books. I downloaded an electronic Stephen King short story a few years back, just to see what it was like. It was too weird for me, personally - I can’t describe it, it just didn’t have the same “feeling” that lying in bed and turning pages gives me. I didn’t hate it - just didn’t prefer it.

I also don’t like books on tape, though - my mind tends to wander away from the words - I think it’s because the person reading aloud naturally goes much slower than my eyes do (I’m not a speed reader, but I’m a very fast reader, and I usually skim rather than read each and every word).

I’m just an old-fashioned, paper-and-ink type of girl, I guess. :slight_smile:

I don’t exactly fall into the category specified by the OP (being a teenager and all), but I can read five books a week and then some if they’re the proper length-- usually about 300 pages and not too complicated. Longer and more detailed books take more time, though once I get used to them, the pace moves faster. At the moment, I have four books going that I can think of. I just pick up other books and start reading them from wherever I open them.

I too tend to skim over what I’m reading, which is not always the best habit ever (I have a tendency to miss small details unless I’m paying attention). I didn’t even notice that’s what I do until I started reading a book in French. I tried going word by word, but that took forever. Once I picked up my usual method, it flowed along quite nicely.

As for books on the computer-- I don’t know about everyone else, but my skimming habits are a thousand times worse on the computer. I do read short stories online but I don’t think I could sit and read an entire novel on my computer. Too distracting…and there’s just something about it that’s not the same. I haven’t pinpointed it quite yet.


I would have a hard time answering the question of how many books I read a week. Sometimes I go to the library and get three or four nice big ones and read them all in a couple of days. Other times I go for a couple of weeks without any new books. But I’m always reading if there’s reading material around – magazines, newspapers, online, backs of cereal boxes – I can’t not do it. On average, I guess I’m in the 1-2 books category. As several people have mentioned, I find it mystifying that some people never read books at all.


Reading on the Palm screen isn’t quite the same as trying to read on a traditional computer CRT. For one it doesn’t flicker being an LCD screen. Some of my friends hate it and refuse to even try on their Palms, but the low resolution doesn’t seem to bother me and I can happily read on it for hours at a time. It also surely beats lugging several books on a train or plane. Just make sure your batteries are charged or else…


I have nothing to add, except that I read while brushing my teeth too! And while eating, and combing my hair, and fixing dinner…