Quote It! Ray Bradbury

Ray_Bradbury“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

— Ray Bradbury, recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Renowned author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. (1920-2012)

I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate the importance of reading–not only for personal growth, but for the benefit of our society-at-large. Saw some disturbing reading statistics from 2012 today:

  • 56%: Young people who claim they read more than 10 books a year. (That’s not even one a month.)
  • 33%: U.S. high school graduates who will never read a book after high school. (Never. As in no more books their entire life.)
  • 42%: College students who will never read another book after they graduate. (It’s getting worse.)
  • 80%: U.S. families that did not buy a book this year. (Can it get worse?)

If you are a reader, good for you! According to the same study, if you read only 15 minutes a day you expose yourself to 1 million words annually. All of those words help keep your brain nimble–and a nimble brain is a good thing!

What are your thoughts on reading and our culture?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

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20 thoughts on “Quote It! Ray Bradbury

  1. Wow! Those are sad figures. Doctors feel one reason Alzheimer’s is growing is because of lack of brain stimulus. Things like excess TV watching causes us not to use our brains as much. If people would realize that reading works those little gray cells, they might at least pick up a book now and again.

    Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  2. Those are sad numbers, Mike. I looked at the site from which you got them and read others that bothered me. I’m curious about their method for arriving at those figures. Even if they’re off a little, they still speak volumes about the course of our culture.

    I hate to say it, but I’m so busy “doing” things these days that I have very little time to read. (I won’t bother you with where I get most of it done.) But I can’t imagine going through a day without reading something.

    Another thing that disturbs me is the nature of most of the fiction I see these days. Though many of the works feature some hero or heroine in pursuit of a worthy goal, most of the stories lack any real hope.

    There’s a need, I think, for well-written Christian literature that goes beyond mere entertainment. There *is* hope, and we need to be writing/reading about it.

    • Jim, I concur. It can be difficult in the midst of all we do to find the time. But, as you suggest, a few minutes there and a few minutes there (Lol) will add up–and stimulate the brain. Can we consider reading part of our exercise program? Only for the brain?

  3. Mike, these are sad numbers indeed. But people make time for what is important. Even the busiest of us are not busy all the time and what we do with those minutes or hours of down time are a matter of priorities. People choose to play an online game, watch a TV show or a movie, text with their friends instead of reading..You asked what we can do about the situation. As a former teacher and school principal, I made sure that the first 45 minutes of every school day were devoted to reading. Every person in my building, from my office on down to the custodial staff read a book, a magazine, a newspaper. Something in print. School leaders should be encouraged to adopt this model. Parents must require their children to have a book in progress at all times. Choosing which book to read next and talking about the books they’re reading helps build skills, and more importantly a love of reading.

  4. A pressing issue for all of us. My goal each year is t oread 12 novels and 12 works of non-fiction. By that I mean books I read cover to cover, not the plethora of non-fiction works where I read certain sections. Last year, I was greatly disappointed that I only got in a dozen fully read books TOTAL. It’s very hard with all the time constraints. Work, health, errands, church, etc etc make reading a lot extremely difficult. Thankfully this year I’m doing much better at getting my reading in.

    Also, though there are exceptions, it is VERY difficult to get kids to read. I was flabbergasted in a good way recently when a couple of the teen boys in my junior high Sunday School class actually mentioned a book they liked and I had to go find it and read it because I wanted to know what was inspiring them to read. It was the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. GREAT books, BTW.

    Just as with spending time in prayer and reading God’s word, reading of any sort has to be taught and instilled from a young age.

      • Don’t base your assessment on the movie! The movie was horrible and took great liberties from what was in the book. A MUCH richer experience when you read the books. But then, that’s usually the case with books-to-movies.

  5. As a former English teacher who saw eighth grade students who couldn’t read a simple excerpt from their text much less a whole book, this homeschool mom decided that planting a love for reading would make a lifetime learner out of my daughter. That has paid off – she devours books just like her mom and dad.
    As a writer, I fear where our next generation of fiction writers will come from. So much of what the kids of today engage in requires no imagination – it’s all there for them. That’s why our family often gives books as gifts instead of toys.
    I would personally be lost without my latest Christian fiction which I tend to carry everywhere just in case there is a moment to read.

  6. I think reading not only exposes the mind to more words, worlds, and information, it also sparks the imagination – a brain function that has to be hurting just as much in this day and age. My husband and I were just talking about how research used to have to be done in the library where you’d pick up a book and get stuck reading a whole section before you found the exact information you were looking for. Nowadays we just Google it, getting nothing above or beyond what we’re looking for. My husband’s a teacher also and can attest to the falling literacy rate in students. My own children are required to read, memorize and recite Scripture and poetry, and write often. Strong reading skills, in my opinion, are a foundation for higher level thinking, creativity, and basic common sense. And I obviously feel strongly enough about it to be soap-boxing here :-). Anyhow good post and welcome back. Hope your holidays were great :-).

    • Very good point, Tanara, about researching and Google. Google was supposed to make us smarter, but it’s really had the opposite effect. Do kids even learn how to conduct non Internet research anymore?

      I’m with you on the soapbox, even though my kids are grown.

  7. I confess I don’t read as much as I should, but I DO read a little something every day. And no, not just this blog post. LOL! Sad figures indeed, but I can’t say I’m surprised with how busy everyone believes they must keep themselves and how big the pull is for TV, computers, hand-held electronics, etc. Seems everyone is more interested in the latest and greatest or “keeping up with the Jones'” and less interested in a relaxing, favorite pastime. 😦

  8. This makes me feel blessed that my adult son and college son both read. My youngest has even picked girls up and gone to Joseph Beth Booksellers to spend time together looking for books. (It’s a 30 minute drive, but it’s the biggest bookstore in our area.)
    Thanks for sharing these stats. It’s very frightening. I wonder how we compare to other countries?

  9. Quote: On intuitive writing | How to write a memo

  10. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury | Vintage (and not so vintage) Paperbacks

  11. Quote: You fail only if you stop writing. | How to write a memo

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