By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.
“Reading can open doors…and these open doors can lead to worlds of infinite interest”
How much do adult Americans engage in voluntary reading? A 2012 survey by the National Endowment of the Arts found that 55% of adults had read at least one book of any type in the past year (books not required by work or school). Of this group, 47% had read at least one novel, play, or collection of short stories or poems. These results prompted two questions: Why should we read at all? Should we decide to read more?
The power of reading is shown in an amusing short novel, The Uncommon Reader, by the acclaimed British novelist and playwright Alan Bennett. The protagonist of the novel is the Queen. One day, while walking her dogs at Windsor Court, the Queen stumbles upon a traveling library in her courtyard. She enters and the librarian asks her humbly what book she would like to borrow. She hesitates. “She had never taken much interest in reading. She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something she left to other people. It was a hobby, and it was in the nature of her job that she didn’t have hobbies.” Nonetheless, she takes a novel and returns to the palace to read it. Read more →