Friday, August 18, 2006


By Eric C. Forbes

THERE WAS MUCH TALK recently dissecting the reading habits (or lack thereof) of Malaysians. The high prices of books, as always, was cited as the main reason why Malaysians don’t read (or don’t read enough). I don’t think the high prices of books is the real reason for people not reading. We often see parents and their offspring willing to spend their easily-earned money on movies, CDs, DVDs, Irish coffee and designer sandwiches, digicams, laptops, iPods, fine dining experiences, fast food, cellphones, car accessories, computer games, kitchen extensions and curtains, fitness club memberships, tuition, etc., but when it comes to books, somehow they are hesitant to spend. Why this double standard? A very strange phenomenon indeed. Most people somehow prefer to hang out in multiplexes doing practically nothing. After all, we are living in the age of idleness and nothingness!

Human nature being what it is, people tend to overstuff their bellies with food and their bodies with all kinds of accoutrement, but deprive their souls of nourishment.

So what can we do. Truth be told, there is really nothing much we can do to encourage those who don’t read to read. I think most people basically don’t see the need to read at all. You know, nowadays you can do very well in life even if you hate reading. I know many people who have done so. However, for those who are serious about reading, try buying a book a month (since books are expensive), but make sure you buy a great one. In a year, you would have read 12 great books. Just imagine12 greats books! Beats going to the university and getting a degree! That’s not too bad a place to start.

Malaysians on the average read two books a year according to statistics. This figure is too good to be true. Most of the people I meet or know do not read at all. This is no crime. Believe me, there are far worse crimes than not reading. Some of the nicest and kindest people I know do not read at all. (But then, some of the most despicable people I know do not read at all either.) Not reading does not make them any less human. But we can’t deny the fact that reading is a good habit to inculcate.


Blogger Omni said...

Hello from the USA!! :-)

Friday, August 18, 2006 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Hello to you too!

Friday, August 18, 2006 1:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Yvonne Lee said...

Hi Eric! Love all your previous Shooting the Breeze posts.

Real food for thoughts. I too know of many friends who don't read.
"I never bought a book in my life, 4D book not counted, right?", one chuckles.

To those who never read, reading is a terrible chore, something that they avoid like plague!
"I like to look at pictures only" if they're holding a magazine.

Reading needs time and also time to be alone. So that's another exucse, beside the no interest and no habit categories.

No money, I think is never an excuse to not read! I was poor and my father never bought a book for me before ( except for school books) but I still grew up with books, from the library, from friends, and now that I'm earning, I can spend more on books than cosmetics.

As a mother now, I personally think that the best way to instil the reading habit is from the time a child is young. My daughter is a voracious reader. I'm so glad for that becuase I know that's one gift from me that she'll keep for the rest of her life. She even reads in the toilet like myself ;)

Friday, August 18, 2006 2:34:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Hello Yvonne - Nice to hear from you! I am glad to know that your book is a success and continues to be one. And thanks for all your kind words.

Reading is a real chore for some people. Not everybody loves reading. If they don't read, they will be doing something else which they enjoy. Reading should never be forced. It should come naturally. Happy reading!

Friday, August 18, 2006 6:51:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

Your post got me thinking. The same lack of reading habits are found in my community and I wondered why. I think it starts when you're a kid. Kids have to find the genre that speaks to them, mystery or young adult, etc. The right teachers create that spark, also. Parents, too. To my surprise my daughter has seen me writing and when my father gave her a laptop, what's the first thing she did? She started to write a story. She's 10 yrs old. Anyway, I enjoyed your post, thanks.

Friday, August 18, 2006 5:52:00 PM  
Blogger bibliobibuli said...

well said and very true

but i think that i can't talk v. deeply with someone who doesn't read ... it's like their head is poorly furnished inside ... great people though they probably are, we aren't on the same wavelength

one of my friends said she was put off becoming a reader because so many of the readers she came across were scruffy introverts! maybe we need to be walking advertisements for reading.

your blog as ever is lovely and i have this sinking feeling in my tum because you've been reading so much more than me!

Saturday, August 26, 2006 11:07:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home