Teens Can Write, Too!

Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework

Why Aren’t We Reading As Much Anymore?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about excuses and procrastination. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I am a world-class procrastinator. A lot of writers are, unfortunately. Even though we love writing with all our hearts- really, we do!- somehow we find ourselves avoiding writing and doing anything else instead. And we’ll come up with all sorts of excuses. I don’t have any time! I have writer’s block! Lots of great writers put off writing for months, probably!

We do the same thing with reading. Now, I don’t mean to be some crotchety old person yelling that technology is evil, because I am very much the opposite of that. But somehow I find myself spending more and more time scrolling through websites and less time reading books, short stories, and poems. I mean, it’d be one thing if I were reading e-books or using websites to find creative writing pieces, but I don’t. And I know so many other writers and readers do the same thing. I remember in tenth grade, my AP English class all started talking about how as kids, we were all voracious readers, checking out piles of books from the library each week and devouring them quickly- but now, we’re lucky if we read one book in a month.

Part of these problems can be chalked up to the fact that as teenagers or young adults, we have more responsibilities than we did before, and less time to do the things that we love, like writing and reading. And at the end of the day, after doing tons of work, it’s exhausting to put in the effort to digest a complicated story or, even harder, create your own. It’s so much easier to laugh at terrible jokes and watch YouTube videos. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with terrible jokes and YouTube videos, with relaxing when you’re tired. But the things that we love, the reasons we get up in the morning for most of us, are books. Reading books and writing books and getting excited about those books. So if we’re not spending time doing those things, then what’s the point?

I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy, because trust me when I say I am probably more guilty than any of you of avoiding reading and writing despite loving both of those pursuits. But instead of feeling bad about all this procrastination, let’s do something about it. Let’s find ways to fight against all the parts of us that go “uggghhh give me the Internet instead” by pushing books back into our lives. I was inspired by my actual superhuman friends and TCWT team members, Kira and Julia, who both made New Year’s Resolutions to read a set number of books this year and last year. I’m aiming lower than they are, with a goal of 36 books, which would probably make my ten-year-old self super disappointed in me, but it’s more than I read last year. To be honest, I’m having difficulty choosing books, despite the fact that there are so many books I still haven’t read. So I had an idea.

This month’s theme is “Books I Love.” In the comments of this article, post some book recommendations, of the books you love but that you think people might not have read yet. I’m going to at least start reading all of your recommendations by the end of the year, and I suggest that other people having this problem do the same. I’ll start by giving my own recommendation: “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland,” by Catherynne M. Valente. It’s an easy-to-read whimsical fantasy book, and it’s a great place to start getting back into reading.

And if you don’t feel like taking the recommendations of complete strangers, you will soon have the chance to take the recommendations of kind-of-not-really strangers. The TCWT and Ch1Con teams are working on creating a book club based on how certain books help us with our own writing. There will be more details on this soon, but I hope this combination of community and good books will get me (and all of you who have this problem) back into reading.

Thanks for reading this, and please leave a recommendation in the comments if you want!

 

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About Ariel Kalati

I'm a 20-year-old student at Sarah Lawrence College studying writing, community building, social justice, and literature. I love Harry Potter, pizza, and arguing about the Raven Cycle.

32 comments on “Why Aren’t We Reading As Much Anymore?

  1. erinkenobi2893
    March 12, 2015

    Fascinating post! I tend to love classics like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Treasure Island.” “Castaways of the Flying Dutchman” and “Redwall”, too… I actually just had a dream that was a bit like “Treasure Island” meets “Redwall.” It was pretty cool.

    • magic-esi
      March 12, 2015

      I love “Lord of the Rings” too! I’ll try those others; I need to catch up on classic books.

      • erinkenobi2893
        March 12, 2015

        Yes! 😀 Read Treasure Island! Best summer read ever 😀

  2. Michaela Mininger
    March 12, 2015

    Love this post! It’s so true. I personally LOVE “Pride & Prejudice.” That’s my favorite one right now. But I also loved these ones. “The Storyteller” – Jodi Picoult; “The Noticer” – Andy Andrews; “A Game of Thrones” -George R.R. Martin; and “The Hobbit” – J.R.R. Tolkien

  3. A.R. Files
    March 12, 2015

    Thanks for this post!

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to just eat up a novel. Now it takes DAYS, but I’m still trying, so that’s worth something!

    I love fantasy middle grade novels like ‘The Menagerie’ by Tui Sutherland and ‘The School for Good and Evil’ by Soman Chainani. Honestly, I think the 8-12 year old crowd is getting the better novels (which is probably why I’m writing in that category) XD.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 12, 2015

      The 8-12 year old crowd is totally getting the best books. I’ve wanted to read “The School for Good and Evil” for a while so I will definitely try it.

      • A.R. Files
        March 12, 2015

        Do it, do it! It was Chainani’s first novel, and for a first, it’s amazing! ❤

  4. The Boarding Blogger
    March 12, 2015

    You might have read these; The chaos walking trilogy, or More Than This, or anything else by Patrick Ness. Just in case you have not, I really like them and strongly recommend them when getting over a ‘reading slump’ :p

  5. lillianmwoodall
    March 12, 2015

    What a fantastic idea! It really strikes home about the procrastination…I know I’m guilty of fabricating busyness – surely it’s one of the flaws of this culture that we have to convince ourselves we’re doing something useful ALL THE TIME. We all need a break. But maybe we’re misusing our leisure time. Youtube is a great way to wind down, but what writer doesn’t know that reading is better tenfold?

    And my recommendation is THE BOOK OF LIES by Mary Horlock. If you like islands, obscure but fascinating history, teenage frenemies and accidental murder (complete with a smart, sardonic voice), you’ll love this. Actually, you’ll love it even if you don’t! 🙂

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 14, 2015

      Thanks! And that book sounds amazing- I love all of those things!

  6. Kira Budge
    March 12, 2015

    I could recommend a thousand hundred, haha, but I’ll just give a few: the UNWIND Dystology by Neal Shusterman, the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, the EARTH GIRL trilogy by Janet Edwards, and, for something more light, THE SELECTION trilogy by Kiera Cass.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 14, 2015

      Of course you have a ton of recs, Kira 🙂 I haven’t read any of those but I’ve wanted to read some for a while, so I can’t wait to read them.

  7. coruscantbookshelf
    March 13, 2015

    Keeping off the internet is easier if you have one device that can do internet, and you keep it confined to one room. Not in that room, no internet.
    I recommend investing in an eReader: library in your pocket, and if like me you’re stingy, you’ll end up reading mostly classics from Project Gutenberg. They’re free. I would totally recommend Dumas’ D’Artagnan Romances – they’re not romances, they’re adventures.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 14, 2015

      I had an ereader once and ended up reading several classics on it because they were free, haha. I’ll try the D’Artagnan Romances!

  8. Susannah Ailene Martin
    March 13, 2015

    In honor of the great man himself, who died a few days ago, I suggest reading anything by Terry Pratchett

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 14, 2015

      Yeah, I’ve been planning to do that. I’ve never read anything by him and I know his writing is great, and the best way to honor him is to appreciate the great work he made.

  9. I’ve totally seen this trend in my life. School (and let’s be honest here) the Internet are huge time suckers in my life, as well as the other extracurriculars I do. I miss being able to devour a whole book in one day, but I do try to get in as much reading and writing as I can. It’s something that I love doing and try to make time for. I have tons of recommendations, but I’ll only do a few. Moon Over Manifest and Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, The Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 14, 2015

      I’ve read TKAM and The Book Thief (amazing books; I love them) but none of the others. Those titles sound amazing though, and I’ve always meant to read Fahrenheit 451. Thanks for the recommendations!

  10. Miriam Joy
    March 14, 2015

    I’m actually reading more at the moment than I have recently — I’ve been devouring books aimed at kids considerably younger than me (I’ve read most of the Percy Jackson books over the past fortnight, and all the parents in the kids’ section of the library give me evils as the only nineteen-year-old browsing those shelves). They’re a useful distraction from the inside of my head. But I think over the last couple of years I’ve also started consuming stories from more than just books. By which I mean I’ve watched a lot of TV, but whatever. I think TV has a lot to teach about writing, and so I don’t feel guilty if I sometimes swap the library for Netflix. It’s all about balance.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 15, 2015

      Good stories in the form of TV is just as good sometimes. I agree, it’s all about balance.

  11. John Hansen
    March 14, 2015

    I love this post so much! I am completely with you. I’ve actually found that I can only read books in paperback–when I try to read an ebook, I am too easily distracted. Also, I really believe that I retain more information reading in print. So using my library more/buying books in paperback has helped me A LOT to read more in the last few months. Some of my recent favorites: Mosquitoland by David Arnold, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 15, 2015

      I love Aristotle and Dante- that one I actually read already. I’ll definitely try the others. And libraries are the best.

  12. Julia Byers
    March 15, 2015

    So I’ve been trying to think of books that I haven’t already suggested a thousand million times, but before I get to those, I of course have to rec my usuals: CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein (and its companion book ROSE UNDER FIRE), BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins (and the rest of its trilogy).

    Moving on: ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill. Anything by Laurie Halse Anderson. Maaaybe ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven. (I’ve heard really mixed things about its representation of mental illness–some people think it’s super accurate; others think it’s awful. But what it does have are some really beautiful lines, so I think it is worth the read, as long as you go into it knowing you might not agree with the representation.) Also THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME by Jess Rothenberg and THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie.

    • Ariel Kalati
      March 15, 2015

      Yay, that is a lot of recommendations! Including some stuff I’ve meant to read for a while.

  13. Allison the Writer
    March 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on Allison the Writer and commented:
    So true….

  14. Heather
    March 15, 2015

    Yes, yes, yes. This is my life. 😄 I mean, I think I’ve been doing okay with reading, and I can usually get in at least five books a month, but that’s a third of what I was reading as of last year. I know that sometimes I forget I like to read, but still. No excuse. Lately I’ve really enjoyed Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, but I definitely need to keep reading more!

  15. jenndiscovers
    April 4, 2015

    I absolutely love your post one because of your writing style and of course because everything you said is so true. I used to be suck a book worm but now with college I don’t have time to read books that I truly enjoy. Now all I do is read ethnographies and academic articles. Here are a couple of books that I enjoyed reading and I think that anyone who does also will enjoy them.
    1) Une Vie or The History of a Heart by Guy de Maupassant 2) Crick Crack Money by Merle Hodge.

    • Ariel Kalati
      April 15, 2015

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond! Thank you 🙂 And those books sound cool- I’ll be sure to check them out!

  16. Ellie
    April 18, 2015

    Percy Jackson and the Olympians (and the spin-off, Heroes of Olympus) is one of my favorites–amazing characters! I also love A Wrinkle in Time. Unwind was already mentioned, I believe–I’ve read two of the books in the last two weeks, and they’re great. One that hasn’t been mentioned yet: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Her writing style is just incredible and the character development is amazing. Definitely recommended if you haven’t read it yet! For middle grade, I love The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick. The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson is another creative middle-grade novel that I’ve recommended several times. And Legend by Marie Lu is an awesome dystopian thriller. A lot of recs, I know, but there are so many good ones!

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