Jennifer Hillier

If you’re reading this…

Jul 22, 2009 | Uncategorized

… then you have time to read a book.  Don’t roll your eyes at me, girlfriend.  Five minutes to check my blog on the internet is five minutes you could be spending reading a page or two in an actual book.

So why don’t you?

It appears the average person doesn’t read.   I’m going to assume you’re not the average person (if you like my blog, then it’s probably fair to say you enjoy books), and that this post doesn’t apply to you.  But I’m told that, statistically, the average person reads ONE book a year.

That is shocking to me.

At the writer’s conference in New York, the author Lee Child was talking about why his series character, Jack Reacher, never “grows”.   Character development is a hot button topic amongst series writers and Lee’s personal belief is that readers don’t really want growth.  They want more of the same.  They want to pick up a Jack Reacher novel and know that if they liked the last book, they’ll like this book.  He said, and I quote, “They don’t want to buy the book and discover that Jack developed.”

I don’t necessarily agree with him (I like it when series characters grow), but I get the point he’s trying to make.  If you want to make millions as an author, you have to target the reader who reads one book a year and have your book be the one he snags at the airport on his way to a tropical vacation.  Because, apparently, most people only read a book or two a year, and most of them do it while on some type of holiday.  Only 1% of the population reads as much as I do, which is about one book a week. (These are Lee’s stats, and I don’t know how accurate they are.)  A few percent more might read one book a month.  The rest?  Well, the rest aren’t that interested.

No wonder people look at me funny when I tell them I write novels!  What a dumb thing to do when the majority of people will never read them!  But a life without books is incomprehensible to me.   I grew up in a home where my mother read a new book every week, and where trips to the book store (W.H. Smith and Coles, back in those days) were as frequent as trips to the grocery store.  I used to think it was weird when someone didn’t have a favorite book, let alone a favorite author.   I used to think it was strange when someone couldn’t remember the last book he’d read, let alone purchased.

But I see now that I’m the weird one.  I’m the minority.  I’m the one who thinks books are as good as sex (and sometimes better, let’s be honest) and that reading is time well spent. Everyone else seems to have better things to do.  Books, you say?  What for, when the movie’s coming out next year?

And, for the record, I don’t think it’s a matter of having enough free time.  I’ve heard that one before – Oh, I love to read, but I’m just so darn busy!  Excuse me, but BULLSHIT.   People make time for the things that are important to them. I make a point to get into bed a full hour before I’m really tired so that I can read before going to sleep.  And yes, I even did this when I worked a regular day job where I had to be up at 6 a.m. five days a week.

I know this is sounding like a bitchy post, and I don’t mean to be bitchy.  And this post certainly isn’t directed at you, my wonderful blog reader.   It’s just a plea to those who might not be making time for books to please, make time for books!   Cut out one TV show a week and read a book instead.

If you don’t know what to read, ask someone to recommend something, then carve out time to delve in.  Even if it’s only fifteen minutes a day.  If you don’t want to spend money, borrow books from friends, or go to the library.

Books are brain food, people. Reading improves your ability to speak and write, to process information, to organize thoughts and form coherent arguments.   Books are educational, provocative, and one of the best forms of entertainment around.  They’re portals to new worlds. T hey encourage you to imagine limitless possibilities.  They make you use your brain in a way that movies, TV, and the internet simply cannot.

Pledge to read one book – any book – every month, for the rest of this year.  See if you don’t get addicted.  You’ll enrich your life, I promise.

That being said, what are you reading right now?   If you’re not reading anything at the moment, lie.  If only to make me feel better.