It seemed I had read just eight books in 2015, of which seven were non-fiction titles. A far cry from the voracious reading of my youth. Are we doomed to this decline?
The first National Literary Reading and Writing Survey by the National Arts Council found that 56% of the 1,000+ Singaporeans they sampled hadn’t read at least one “literary book” between March 2014 to March 2015 – these they defined to include fiction, poetry, graphic novels, creative non-fiction and the like (see the infographic below and read the links, for reasons).
I made the 44% cut due to the two graphic novels, Koh Hong Teng’s “Last Train from Tanjong Pagar” (fiction) and Jim Ottaviani’s “Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas” (creative non-fiction).
The bulk of my reading is scientific papers and book chapters, which are no substitute to for regular works with their attendant benefits. So I have been trying to maintain the habit. But I find I am hemmed in by work:
- Late Jan – May: Sem 2 madness
- Jun – early Jul (between Sem 2 & 1): some reading gets done here.
- Aug – early Dec: Sem 1 madness
- mid-Dec-early Jan (between Sem 1 & 2): usually one or two war history books in preparation for our annual walk in Feb to commemorate the Battle of Pasir Panjang
So how will I prevent neglect? Like other sleep-deprived Singaporeans, I must plan some breaks to allow my mind to breathe or else it will not happen.
So I began using Goodreads, and discovered friends struggling to do the same! I drop in once in awhile, vaguely aware of my 2016 reading challenge of 24 books.
Well, it’s May and I have managed six books. Dean Foster’s Star Wars book shouldn’t count, for it really was just the movie transcript, offering nothing new. Still, in the madness of May, I managed to read one of my neglected books. It seems keeping tabs is helping.
This June and July, the National Library Board will hold a two-month campaign to get more people to read. I look forward to being encouraged, will egg on my friends and look forward to exchanging stories!
- What would it take to get Singaporean adults to read more? [link (CNA)]
- Parliament: First National Reading Day to be held on July 30 to help nurture love of books [link (ST)]
- Singaporeans have an interest in literary books – inaugural National Literary Reading and Writing Survey 2015 shows [link (NAC)]
- Less than half of Singaporeans read literary books, National Arts Council survey finds [link (ST)]
- Less than 50% read one literary book a year: Poll [link (ST)]
- “Low reading rate: Lack of interest, time cited as factors” [link (ST)]