Aoibheann Diver explores how reading has evolved over the years and how it is still a hugely popular pastime.
Whether it’s a romantic tear-jerker by Nicholas Sparks, a fantasy series about a young wizard or the life and times of a famous footballer, books are as varied as they are numerous.
With the internet taking over life as we know it, there are definitely concerns about the survival of the humble book. Will social media and Netflix take over and put an end to reading as a hobby?
Reading is a great way to escape reality for a while, to see the world through someone else’s eyes, to learn new things and to develop your own imagination.
As we age, the childlike creativity in our minds can start to disappear, but reading can help restore that, if only for an hour or two.
It’s one of the best things to do before you go to sleep because it helps you forget your worries and problems and allows you to relax before you doze off.
Looking at computers and phone screens before you go to bed is believed to be connected to insomnia, so reading is a much better alternative.
Reading is one of those hobbies that can be easily forgotten when life gets busy, but once you start again you’ll wonder why you ever stopped.
Although new technologies are creating new kinds of hobbies every year, books aren’t necessarily being left behind; the Kindle and the e-book have revolutionised the way we read.
Some people say they wouldn’t enjoy reading on an electronic device because the brightness of the screen would hurt their eyes. But that is the beauty of the Kindle. It uses electronic paper technology that makes the screen look like the pages of a book without the irritation of a regular screen.
If you think it is just younger people who are more inclined to use these devices, think again. Take a look on any bus or train and you’ll see all kinds of people making the most of these new technologies.
Older people are willing to take a chance on e-readers, so why wouldn’t young people give books a chance? After all, children are still using books in schools and are still being read bedtime stories. They’re growing up with books.
The same concerns probably arose when radio became popular, and again when television arrived another fuss was kicked up. If reading can survive the rise of those mediums then it can survive the internet too.
Go into any book shop at Christmas time and you’ll see that many people agree this isn’t the end of reading. A book is a wonderful gift to give and receive because there is a genre to suit everyone: An autobiography for dad, a cookbook for mum and an abundance of magical stories for children.
These same books can be bought and read on your smartphone without even leaving your house. Still, there is something special about turning the crisp pages of a new book while you dive into whatever new adventure awaits.
Reading may be changing, but it’s certainly not dying.