Reading for pleasure a dying culture

Read for fun: Reading for leisure seems to be a dying trend. Some blame the high price of books while others say they don’t have the time. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: The competitive job market and high cost of living are just a few reasons contributing to a decline in reading culture.

Auditor Loon Kong Fei, 24, attributed the decline in reading habits to an individual’s lifestyle and life commitments.

“People are more focused on picking up skills that have financial returns, so they have little time for leisure reading,” he said.

Loon said books are also expensive, as they can cost up to RM50 per copy and even reach up to RM100.

“For the average income earner, it can be a financial strain as this amount of money can be spent on other things,” said Loon, who loves reading novels by Sidney Sheldon, Pittacus Lore and Nicholas Sparks.

Undergraduate Kanchini Vadiveloo, 24, believes that because young children today have phones, they do not grow up cultivating a reading culture.

“Books are also being digitised, meaning they can be bought online and read on phones or tablets.

People are more invested in reading on their digital devices than reading the hard copy of the book itself,” she said.

Shuvarna Latha Ponnan, 45, a retail supervisor, thinks there are many reasons why young people’s reading habits are declining.

“The emergence of social media platforms, binge-watching, poor exposure to the benefits of reading, and a lack of guidance and introduction (of books) from parents to their children are some of the causes.

“People can spend hours without food and rest, engrossed in socialising, rather than spend their time with their noses deep into books,” said the fan of the interracial romance novel genre.

Shuvarna also said that teenagers are lazy and always make excuses when it comes to reading.

“They find books boring, and they say that reading makes them sleepy.

There could be hundreds of reasons they could give for not reading,” she said.

Shirra Weiringen, 25, said she genuinely loves reading, unlike others who pretend just for the sake of fitting into a trend.

“Most of my friends use books as decorations in their personal spaces to make them look more aesthetically pleasing.

“It’s a trend now that people only buy books just for them to collect dust,” said Weiringen, who loves reading both fiction and non-fiction books.

She expressed disappointment that the “BookTok” TikTok trend is influencing today’s teens only to make them appear cool, rather than fostering a genuine interest in reading.

Despite that, a check with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) found that the number of published physical and digital books has been on the increase since 2020.

DBP said the number of physical books published has consistently increased annually, from 170 in 2020 to 253 in 2021, 313 in 2022, and 366 in 2023.

Meanwhile, the publication of digital books saw a spike from 203 in 2021 to 291 in 2023.

“Having a book culture is very important for building a developed country and improving our nation’s literacy by creating a more knowledgeable and mature society.

“Those who read are also able to better develop their talent or knowledge in their jobs or interests, which potentially allows them to be both more creative and innovative,” DBP said.

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