Shades of medieval melancholia! New research by a nonprofit, the Reading Agency, has revealed that many readers in the United Kingdom are afflicted with “book-block” – after struggling with a title that challenges them, they become discouraged and give up. Book burnout?
This sobering news comes via a survey commissioned to mark the 2018 World Book Night. Results show that more than half of British readers (54%) are stuck reading the same book for up to three months, preventing them from reading anything else.
What titles are hanging them up? Three guesses! The book most Brits say they started but never finished is E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, followed by J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and (big surprise here) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling.
Some respondents took a stoic approach to reading; In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) insisted “you should never give up – once you start a book you should always finish it.” According to the survey’s findings, about half of people in the UK (51%) say the biggest barrier to finishing a book is realizing that they aren’t enjoying it.
What to do? What to do? On World Book Night, the Reading Agency encouraged Brits to “ditch the burdensome books you’re not enjoying and try something new instead.” To help these beleagured readers out, the nonprofit agency called on readers across the country to share a great book with someone who doesn’t read often. Inspired idea!
The survey of 2,000 UK adults suggests that preconceived ideas about books are stopping us from reading more, with over half (55%) admitting they would avoid reading a book if they thought it would make them sad. When asked why, more than a quarter (28%) said they felt sad enough at the current state of the world and would avoid reading a book that would add to this.
Yet there’s a silver lining: Findings also reveal that people are turning to books to help them navigate the turbulent political climate in the UK and abroad, with about three-quarters (65%) of readers surveyed agreeing that books provide an escape from the uncertainty of world events. Meanwhile, almost half (49%) agree reading that fiction increases our capacity to empathize and understand the world.
The Reading Agency’s research also highlights the wider benefits of reading, with the vast majority of Brits (91%) saying they think reading can have a positive effect on mental health and well-being. Those of us who are reading books find companionship between the pages, with one in four (28%) saying they would be most likely to turn to books if they felt lonely. Others say they turn to a book when feeling low, stressed or anxious and struggling to cope with difficult life events.
What a revealing survey! And what power books have: they provide escape and comfort, solace and stress relief. Words and our work matter more than ever—so let’s all write on!