There was a time when parting with a book was like the process of unscrewing a tightly sealed jar. At some point, the parents had to give in, because there wasn’t a single thing in the world between me and the chapter I’m almost about to finish – before I could start doing anything else.
And I’m sure you can guess where this story is going.
Now I spend days wondering why I can’t remember the last time I finished a book. I come to think that maybe I’m just addicted to my phone, numbing my brain with a gazillion of content every day. Maybe I don’t have the same attention span or patience I used to have and maybe it’s all just excuses. But the germinating question remains: how did I get here? And can I free the little bookworm that might devour the books?
A 40-year study conducted between 1955 and 1995 on leisure reading trends among the Dutch population found that the average person’s reading time was cut in half, especially during the initial phase of television (1955-1975). He also found that the combination of paid work and domestic chores among post-war generations, and the growing diversity of leisure activities, also drove the decline.
How true are the findings of this study for today’s readers? Do these aforementioned problems also prevent them from reading their favorite books? If so, what are they doing to counter it?
To find these answers, I ended up talking to a few bookworms around me.
Sushmita S Preetha, Editorial and Editorial Manager at The star of the daysaid: “I’ve been missing the mindset required to read lately. I read so many articles a day that when it’s time for me to relax, which is usually around 10 p.m., I’m too exhausted to make the effort to read a book.
“I used to start a book and read it all day or on weekends or even on Eid holidays. the baby and visiting relatives, so it’s easier to watch something than to read a book,” she explained.
Aaqib Hasib, Deputy Editor at the Entertainment Office of The star of the day said, “We usually work so many hours a day that we have very little time left to do anything else. Generally, anyone working 5 days a week in Dhaka is very burnt out, which is why it’s easier for most to transition into consuming content that doesn’t require much processing.
The availability of so much content does not help a reader’s case. There’s also the satisfaction point – when you look at something for an hour, you end up extracting more information than you do with the effort of reading 30 pages, and that’s something that according to me, psychologically interferes with our reading processes,” Hasib said.
“When you are faced with the possibility of watching a YouTube video that summarizes In the west, nothing is new and finish reading the book, which may take months, what is the consumer most likely to choose? Connecticut College student Noshin Saiyara asked me.
“Besides the hype I see around the release of a new TV show, there’s one that would also exist for books, even as late as 2014-15. But you don’t see similar hype generated anymore for new book releases,” she added.
Naziba Basher, actress and deputy editor of The star of the day, said, “When it’s shooting day and I have free time, I end up finishing several chapters of a book. But when I try to continue where I left off, I am unable to do so. Having to read so much at work sometimes affects my reading habits.”
“Although reading was a regular habit for me until college, I lost a lot of that ability because of social media. I got it back during the pandemic. And ever since, I’ve been this routine of reading at least a few pages before sleeping,” said Tabassum Islam Susmi, an Erasmus student, when asked how she had reconstructed her reading.
“Other things helped too. It may sound silly, but now I’m one of those people who goes to book club meetings and takes some kind of book everywhere.
She added: “I would say that with adulthood and the shortened attention spans we have now, breaking the habit of reading is understandable. But if someone really wants to get it back, it’s difficult, yes, but totally doable”.