‘Bookworm Britain’? Give me a break! - I’ve fallen out of love with reading and I can’t be alone

4 March 2024, 10:17 | Updated: 4 March 2024, 11:10

‘Bookworm Britain’? Give me a break! - I’ve fallen out of love with reading and I can’t be alone
‘Bookworm Britain’? Give me a break! - I’ve fallen out of love with reading and I can’t be alone. Picture: LBC

By Freddie Hall

“What are you reading at the moment?”.

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It’s the question, normally asked by members of my family, that never ceases to fill me with dread.

The answer goes something like this – “well…hmmm…yeah so I’ve got a few books on the go right now but nothing really standout to be honest…how about you?”.

I don’t think you need to be a mind reader to sense that I’m not being entirely truthful when I give this often-panicked response.

So, here’s the confession and pls don’t judge.

I haven’t picked up a book for over a year, the last time I did I gave up halfway through out of boredom and going to the library has become an event as infrequent as a blue moon.

I also couldn’t tell you when I last had an in-depth conversation with a friend or family member about a book.

As a keen Manchester United fan, my interests are less Sally Rooney…more Wayne Rooney.

Now maybe I haven’t found the right genre or I’m just living a life of ignorance but the reality is that I’ve become more of a watcher or a listener than a reader.

It appears however that I am the anomaly as new figures have revealed that Britain is in the midst of a book club boom, with listings on the ticketing site Eventbrite increasing by a staggering 350% between 2019 and 2023.

We’re also told that my age group, ‘Gen Z’, are ditching the nightclubs for the book clubs thanks to the rise in social media trends such as #BookTok - the TikTok space where users share their recommendations.

And if you go online you can find young celebrities, including Dua Lipa, posting to fans about their ‘must-reads of the month’.

This all reportedly comes from the pandemic as we were forced to slow down and pick up new hobbies.

Apologies but this is where you’ve lost me and I can’t be alone.

My lockdown was spent glued incessantly to a screen, binging whatever TV series Netflix decided to throw at me.

It was also the time where I picked up the habit of constantly checking my phone for messages, emails or news updates – a pattern of behaviour that has only got worse.

As I write this article, I must have looked down at my phone at least 5 times and this is exactly the reason why I can’t get into reading.

Distraction is enemy number one.

The truth is that, in a world with more streaming services than days in a calendar year, there’s always something I’d rather do to relax than read.

I’m speaking to you as someone who grew up reading and who appreciates how a book can change your perspective on life in a way that a TV show or film can never achieve.

I fear that teenagers growing up now will never get into that essential habit of reading early on in their lives, especially when you consider the levels of addiction to smartphones and social media among young people.

The narrative that we’re all reading more than ever is misleading, complacent and has to be challenged.

There’s still a lot of work to do before we can truly call ourselves ‘Bookworm Britain’.

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