Message in a Bottle

Now, I am a member of Gaia. A really nice social networking site with games, cool items, and all that fun stuff. Now, in their aquarium section of the site, they have teamed up with Verizon Wireless to do messages in bottles. So you write a message and send it out on the web among other Gaians. It is interesting. Depending on who gets the bottle you can have some cool comments, others are just downright sick or rude. Not that I really care about that.

This post is about asking about a favorite book. The majority of hits off that bottle were about people who said they never read. Really, quite tragic. My siblings don’t like to read either. It might not help that my 10 year-old stepsister had to learn English as a second language, but she doesn’t read and gets intimidated by somewhat bigger books, some that aren’t that big at all.

It is really disturbing to see the number of people who don’t read. Libraries, journals, publishing companies are closing, cutting back, and re-organizing. It is rather scary that in this world, the written word is taking a back seat to movies, video games, and other instant gratification activities. I am guilty of this sometimes, but I always try to find time to read, whether it is a scanlation of a manga that I like, or re-reading an old favorite (like Austen’s Mansfield Park), or finding a new book to read (like Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons – not new as in recently published, but new as in ones I have not yet read).

I have a huge list of books that I want to read. My best friend Sassy says that as long as there are books to read that you haven’t read yet, you can’t die until you’ve read them all. It’s a fun sentiment. My friends and I are all bookworms, bookaholics, bookaphiles. We read. We devour books. So it is hard to imagine a generation of people that seem to be bookaphobics. There are many books that are well worth the time you spend reading them, some that you wonder how they ever got published, but still worth reading at least once, right?

How do we get the younger masses reading again? Maybe it would help if parents weren’t so busy today and could actually spend time reading to their children, like my grandmother used to read every night to my sister and I.

I am only 24 and already missing those good ol’ days.

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3 thoughts on “Message in a Bottle

  1. i think part of it is that most people don't really know *how* to read. it has become a chore, and one that many are no good at. reading out loud in school is a punishment, both for the reader and the listener. reading silently is mainly used as a way to shut the class up when the teacher has a headache. primarily, people use mutilated forms of english to communicate, so that text messages and tweets are considered the norm, and acronyms are used in abundance in e-mail. these are all short, sweet, and to the point… it reinforces that reading is bad, boring, and a punishment. lengthy and instructional e-mails are confusing and incoherent; they not only confound the audience, but they are painful to read – one skims them, and skims everything like them. news articles are typically short, badly edited, repetitive, and oftentimes cut off mid-sentence; clearly neither the author nor the reader bothers with putting forth the effort to appreciate reading the text involved. no one takes the time to write properly: written notes are badly compiled, handwriting is outright illegible, spelling is atrocious. why read when you cannot? why learn when you do not have to? why bother when no one else does? why do something that is traditionally presented as a punishment, a bore, and a chore?

  2. While it is true that do to email and IM English has gotten more choppy and the younger generations worse at reading or writing, surely there is a way to make reading less of a chore? Well, I doubt there is any way to make school reading less of a chore. (I still groan when I see textbooks.) I plough through books that I would rather not read on the promise of the plot (sometimes that is rewarded, sometimes not) and it is a great feeling when a slow or rather badly written book provides a nice gem or an unexpected turn. Although, there are now publishers publishing books in email and IM language. It is rather sad to me. Mainly because, even though I am still young, I don't know all the terminology and slang and sometimes you just want the added details of a fully written sentence. Of course I am of the old school where anticipation can be better than instant gratification.

  3. textbooks suuuuuck! i got through a business class based on "the dilbert principle" alone, once. i bought the textbook, i just never read it. and i passed the class. so… yah. lesson learned, right?

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