Thursday, November 13, 2008

Committed To Regular Reading

Over a year ago in these entries, I gave some reading statistics from bestselling author Harvey Mackay's newspaper column. They are disappointing:

"* Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.

* 51 percent of the American population never reads a book of more than 400 pages after they complete their formal education.

* 73 percent of all books in libraries are never checked out.

* The average American watches 32 hours of TV every week.

* The average American reads only eight hours (books, newspapers, magazines, Yellow Pages, etc.) every week.

* The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what puts into his head."

With these statistics, it is little wonder that parts of the publishing business are struggling (and even predicting the struggle will continue for some.)

If you want to be involved in some aspect of publishing (books or magazine writing where your work appears in print), then you need to be committed to reading on a regular basis. It's important to take in great information through reading. The experience will fill your mind and heart with something important which will influence your writing. Create a habit of reading. Why?

Consider these additional statistics from Harvey Mackay:

* "If you read just one book a month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world.

* If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world's foremost leading authorities on that subject

* If you read just 15 minutes a day -- every day for one year -- you can complete 20 books."

Often my own reading for pleasure happens early in the morning or late at night. It is a consistent part of my writing life to be reading nonfiction and fiction in many different areas. I read way beyond the books and magazines that I write about in these entries--and I do it on a planned, disciplined and regular basis. Reading is just as much a part of my publishing life as writing and the two disciplines work in tandem. Do they for you and your writing life? Even 15 minutes of reading can make a huge difference--if done on a consistent basis.

Finally, some readers are concerned if they don't see consistent tweets from me or entries about the writing life. Early tomorrow morning my wife and I are flying to the Austin, Texas area. It's a quick family related trip and I'm unplugging from my computer and not taking any gadget to connect. I will admit to slipping my AlphaSmart in my carry-on in case I get some huge inspiration. My wife's aunt turns 100 tomorrow and we'll be there with other parts of the family to celebrate Aunt Mary's milestone. I'll be back and continue my entries about writing and publishing.

In the meantime, I've got one of my biggest decisions to make: which books to carry on this quick trip for my own reading time.

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8 Comment:

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Judy Left a note...

Thanks, Terry! This early literacy librarian appreciates your post with its shocking statistics.

Reading together 20 minutes a day (minimum) is one of the most important gifts parents can give their children.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Sheila Left a note...

I love plane rides because then you have uninterrupted time to read! Except for the many times they bring around snacks.

Last time I was on a plane, though, the guy beside me was watching pornography on his iPod. Was I ever glad I had a book so I could escape into a different world!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Beverly Left a note...

I certainly understand - as my hardest decision taking a plane ride is which book(s) to take.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Krista Phillips Left a note...

Have a great trip!!!

I agree, I don't read every day (well, I do read SOMETHING every day... blogs, critique work, periodicals at work etc) but I don't read a BOOK every day. I try to though, and the days that I stay up to wee hours of the morning finishing a book make up for it.

It is so important for kids to read books, but also important not to force it. I think *personally* some of the problem is us adults MAKING kids read. It becomes a chore instead of something fun, and then becomes something they are thankful NOT to do once they get older.

I am trying to make reading fun for my kids. My daughter does have to read 30 minutes a day for school, but we try to pick out her favorite kind of books to make it enjoyable. We also make reading a book with mommy (for the little ones) a reward. *if you take a bath and are good we'll read a book!*

It then seems like a positive thing instead of "we have to read now..."

Fun family trips to the Library (waving at Judy) are great as well!

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Judy Left a note...

Krista, you are so correct. Your children likely will be book lovers. I love your idea of using reading as a reward!

We want to make reading a pleasurable activity for children, and not a "chore."

Krista, may I take you along to my next "Sharing Books with Children" workshop as "Exhibit A"? Thank you for expounding on my comment.

Sorry, Terry. Didn't mean to turn your blog into an early literacy forum. That's what happens when you leave on a trip. :-)

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Amy Deardon Left a note...

Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary!

For myself, I can't imagine not reading. I often have four or five books going at once, and would much rather entertain myself with a good novel than a TV program. (I'll knit if I watch TV :-)

I wrote to Mr. Mackay many moons ago after reading his Swim With the Sharks. He wrote back the nicest letter -- I'm a great fan of his. He is an encourager, a genuine optimist and seems like a really nice person.

At 4:56 AM, Blogger Dru Bloomfield Left a note...

I've been noticing a change in my reading habits over the past couple years as I spend more and more time online. It concerns me in some ways.

In the past, I typically had 4-5 non-fiction books going in parallel with a recreational novel. Now, so much of my reading is done on-line, and I just delight in finding a long article that's been researched and written well.

Your post is reminding me why it's important to put 20-30 minutes of book reading back in my day. Thank you.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger MLP Left a note...

When I am consistently reading my writing gets better, my vocabulary broadens, I have more intellectual conversations, my spelling improves, my second language improves (even when most or all of my reading is in English, I’m not joking.) and I am more confidant in every aspect of my life. When I am not reading consistently the converse happens. Hmmm, perhaps I need to get back in the habit…


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