In defense of reading

"According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll  asking 1,000 U.S. adults about their reading habits, 41 percent of respondents had not read a fiction book in the past year; 42 percent had not read a nonfiction book." This is one of the saddest statements about the state of our country that I have heard in quite a while, and lord knows, there are plenty to choose from: the size of the deficit, the inability of the members of our government to work together, the number of children living in poverty, and on and on. Why does the reading one so disturb me? I am worried because reading is powerful. Reading, and speaking about and acting on what you read, can impact all of those other sad states of affairs. This is not to mention the stress level in this country. So, we are all crazy busy, but remember how great it feels to read a book that you actually enjoy, one that transports you somewhere outside of your own life, lets you think about other people's lives for a while, in fact demands it? Well, the good news is that the experts agree that you do have time to read.
And while we're at it, let's put aside how much time we spend doing other, much less fabulous things than reading, you know, like work, and the dishes, and buying toilet paper, and in case we've been pretending it's not true, admit how much time we waste watching TV or playing video games or surfing the web for who knows what. Remember when reading was fun? Before it was an assignment for school or for work that had a deadline and a consequence, reading was, for many of us, a true pleasure. I'm not saying there aren't people for whom reading has always come hard, but I know a lot of readers who say they miss it but can't find the time for it. Well, here is the answer, loud and clear from the experts, Yes, you do have time to read!
If that's not enough, here's how to remember how much fun reading was and could be again: Entertainment Weekly has made reading into March Madness, or in this case, I assume in honor of national novel writing month, November Madness. You can vote for your favorites in each bracket and see how they do. I think you'll be surprised by how many you've read or want to read again (and how many titles make you smile just looking at the cover): Best YA Novel Round One: You can vote here!
In case you thought it was a fluke that reading is so much in the air, even CNN has weighed in, asking people what book most influenced them. Because we all know it's true: a book can change your life. A book can make you see the world differently or change the way that you interact with the it. Here are the ones that got picked: Readers sound off: Books that changed YOUR lives.
What would you pick? Mine's not on the list, but its author made me think as no book had before, the eternal question, what if? Quickly followed by, what then? And we are off and running, solving the questions, the pressing issues of the day. See? Not so hard.

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I welcome your comments and questions and will do my best to answer in a reasonable time, though working on my next novel has to come first.