Does Reading = Boring?
Here are two things you should know about me:
First, I have always been that child; the one perfectly content sat in a corner on my own with a book, with no desire to engage with anyone or anything unless absolutely necessary.
Second, I have been called lame, a loser, weird, boring and any other childhood variant on that sentiment. What can I say? Children are cruel.
It took me a long while to understand that for a lot of people, reading is a tedious, uninspired, and yes, boring activity. For some, it can be associated with hours of homework, a punishment for watching too much TV, or, a very last option if there is absolutely nothing else to do. With that type of affiliation, a love of reading can be seen as an unusual use of time and there begins the uphill battle.
As humans, we are told that we are social creatures and we have to make every effort to go out and connect as often as possible and with as many people as possible. Therefore, if someone likes being alone they are obviously mental… this rationalisation make no sense – we all want time alone. It is seen as socially acceptable to dedicate alone time to playing video games, sleeping, cooking, watching Netflix or listening to music…. so why is reading not shown the same respect?
Reading is an activity that no matter what (barring significant advances in technology) will be a solitary activity. Yes you can read with a classmate or to someone, but they can easily stop paying attention or lose track of the story. Reading exists simply between the book and the reader and there is no room for anything else. I think this is the issue for most. How can you simply enjoy being alone with your thoughts and a structured assortment of 26 letters? There are no bright colours, loud noises or sensory stimuli, just simple straightforward black and white.
This leads to the assumption that such an activity must be dull and, by extension, so must the participant. Nobody wants to be thought of as boring, so as we grow older we put unsophisticated books aside in favour of dazzling tablets, television, smartphones, iPods and laptops. We don’t admit that instead of going out with the lads for a pint we would rather stay in with a cuppa and the latest James Patterson or John Grisham. In an effort to look like an engaged member of society we make the decision to fill the silences, not able to bear the weight of our own mind and ignoring the imaginative processes just beneath the surface that are unlocked when given a new world explore.
Reading was once the cornerstone of society. In times past, knowledge was limited. The small amounts available, were passed to society via the written word, and was enthusiastically consumed. In some instances it was considered too powerful an influence for the masses (Bonfire of the Vanities!). Now, the power lies in Snapchat stories, Instagram collages and Twitter’s trending topics.
As an avid reader and book collector, I have received my fair share of withering glances, confused stares and eye rolls when I proudly pull a 400-page book out of my purse at lunch break or decide to spend a perfectly good Friday night at home, disappearing down a rabbit hole, away from a world of incessant beeps and buzzes and towards one of my own making that involves sword fights, magic and epic love. I chose to engage with the imagination of a complete stranger, and consider what it would be like to have lived four hundred year ago or four hundred years from now! I can be a bold warrior, an orphaned royal, a fierce witch or a master thief. All of these lives are accessible through reading… so tell me, does that sound boring to you?