When people find out I’m a librarian, they either instantly love me, or instantly begin trashing my profession and passion. Grumbly curmudgeons will continue to say things like “libraries are redundant now that we have the internet,” and “books are going out of style,” and “no one has time to read these days.” To which I will continue to say, “Hm. Have you read any good books lately?” They will grunt no, they don’t like reading.
“Maybe you just haven’t found the right book.”
Or maybe you’re just a grumbly curmudgeon who’s wildly out of touch. Probably both.
Either way, the truth is that people are reading a lot. In Canada, we don’t have many recent statistics on pleasure reading, but as someone who talks to hundreds of Canadian readers every week, I can tell you that Canadians read. The number of times our book return bin overflows is proof enough. While I can’t shell out the money to survey thousands of Canadians on their reading habits (c’mon Canada, bring back the National Reading and Buying Books for Pleasure survey!), I can write a blog post about why people are reading more than ever – and why they will continue to do so.
9 Reasons Why Canadians are Reading More Than Ever:
The publishing industry is clever as hell.
These days authors don’t just write a good book. They write a good book, and then get geniuses to sell it. Publishers are paid to advertise for upcoming books of all kinds. And they’re good at it. Remember Girl on the Train? Of course you do – it was one of the most heavily hyped books of all time. Regardless of what you thought of the book, that marketing worked.
There’s a genre for everything.
Hybrid genres exist in every form: fantasy-romance, sci-fi-mystery, horror-poetry, western-erotica. No matter what you want to read – it’s out there. And if it’s not, you’ll probably write it yourself. Which brings me to my next point:
There are so many writers!
Promos like #NaNoWriMo are encouraging everyone to be a novelist (plus we all know someone who’s writing a book). With more writers writing, there are more perspectives out there. Plus guess what all good writers have in common? They read a lot.
The more time we spend in front of screens the more special reading feels
.I don’t need a study to show you that people are spending more and more time in front of screens. First of all, you’re staring at a screen right now (unless you’re a non-paperless teacher who is currently marking an essay which has quoted my blog. in which case hello!). Second of all, look around you. If you’re in public, I bet you’ll be able to count more people with a screen in front of their face than people without. There’s nothing wrong with that – it just means reading a book seems even more special because it’s unplugged. Numerous viral articles have promoted the benefits of reading – empathy, mindfulness, intelligence, success. As fleeting as those articles may be, they’re working.
Libraries have become massively social spaces.
By expanding into non-book related adult programming (board games, DIY workshops, movie screenings, academic lectures, technology tutorials, concerts) libraries are drawing all types of readers into their spaces: non-readers, latent readers, reluctant readers, avid readers, social readers. Latent readers curiously overhear a couple gushing over a new thriller, reluctant readers brush shoulders with an enthusiastic librarian, and avid readers wander over to an untapped genre. Just being physically present in a library can be life changing. Trust me. I’ve seen it.
Children’s and YA lit have become so diverse and appealing
Just like adult genres, there are children and teen books about everything. Basically if a young person has the literacy levels needed to read, and the tools to access a good book (*cough* school librarians *cough*), they will find a book they love. If they’re lucky, it’ll be a series. And then another series. Right now, young readers read more novels than any other age group. More young people will have fond memories of reading, and are likely to continue into adulthood.
More movies are being based on books.
It’s easier than ever to find fellow book lovers.
One of my favourite parts of being a librarian is watching people bond over books – I’ve seen many new friendships form in the stacks. Readers love to meet other readers. There are many reasons to read, and for some people the main reason is: discussion. Well good news for them! Discussion is just a click away. Any social media platform can turn into a book club if you use the right hashtags. #Bibliophile #YALit #CanLit #HarryPotter #Tumblrarian
To sum up:
Canadian readers are flourishing with good reason, and it seems like they’ll be flourishing for a long time to come.