I used to dream about the day that I would have a library room in my house for all of the books that I read. A place to showcase the accomplishment, tout my achievement and, of course, look impressive. When I originally had this dream, I was not really a reader yet and pretty much only liked the idea of having a library. Once I started working in New York and commuting in 1996, I began to read to better use the time while sitting on buses and subways back and forth to work. Library books and crumpled paperback books would hardly fulfill the image I had in my head. Add to that the fact that I have read only digital books for the past 5 years, that wall of books is now a thin iPad taking up almost no space on a shelf.
What I did not realize at the time, I really just wanted that impressive display. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize the importance of reading, what that can mean to me personally and the pleasure of reading something I am excited about. A few years ago, I took an informal survey to see how many books the room full of people read in a year, whether for continuing education, curiosity or for fun. Keep in mind, my reference point was the number of books that I read and the books that Debbie read. I was surprised at the results and how little people actually read. At the time I did this survey, I had already been filled with sayings that leaders are readers and the benefits of an informal education. In October 2015, the Pew Research Center published the finding that adults over 18 read an average of 12 books a year of the population surveyed. The midpoint of the results was only 4, and 27% polled had not read a book (printed or audio) in that year.
The physical library was something, as a child, I was impressed with. But as I aged and matured (OK, that last one might be suspect if you ask my girls), my mindset changed. The library was to impress others. I now read for myself. I read to learn. I read to educate myself. I read to understand things better. I read as an entrance into new areas of knowledge. I read for fun. Once I realized the reason I read, I no longer needed the physical library, because, at the end of the day, it would most likely only impress me. There is an organization called R.I.F., Reading is Fundamental, “…the leading champion for children’s literacy through meaningful research, quality content and equal access to impact all kids with the power of reading.” We should educated on the importance of reading, not the pain of reading books that are beyond our comprehension or pleasure.
Most importantly, each of us has to find the books that interest us, instead of what interests others.