It is true that Americans are not reading as much as they used to with so many other forms of entertainment around. Some of my students down-right hate to read, and it's unfortunate that their schooling has played a large part in their opinions. Reading has become a chore to traditionally educated teenagers - a "boring" story they are forced to over-analyze and be graded on. I wish I could convince my students that reading is like a drawn-out version of their favorite movies! Oh to dream...but there is plenty of research and data proving that children who read have higher test scores, richer vocabularies, better communication skills, enhanced concentration...and the list really does go on and on.
I LOVED reading growing up, having wanting to do everything my parents did. They would lie on the porch swing on the weekends, feet entangled in the summer heat, with their nose in books for hours. "Ashley, bring us some ice tea!" they would yell into the house, and I delivered it...and that's how I started loving unsweetened ice tea too. I wish parents knew (or remembered) how much modeling behaviors make such a difference in their children's lives.
My first genre of choice was historical romance. They are sweet, simple, romantic (maybe too mush so), and sometimes have a great mystery or adventure thrown into the mix. As I got older though, these types of books became repetitive and shallow to me and so I moved onto my next genre - non-fiction. I became a big nerd and started to read science books on a weekly basis (thanks dad!). But then I went to college and the last thing I wanted to do was read more books on science in my spare time. I liked books that truly helped me escape - science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers. I got into young-adult books mostly with Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight being among my bestsellers reads.
I am sad to admit that for those years in graduate school, I did very little reading - but I guess I have an excuse. Now I read a book every three weeks on average, and I seem to have expanded my genres of choice (can you believe Vampire is considered a genre now?I And no, I am not on that train). When I hear people say they don't like reading I can't help but thing, "But you do! You just haven't found the right genre yet!"
I find it especially important to read now that I am writing. The last two series I've read, the steam punk fantasy "Emperor's Edge" series by Lindsay Boroker and the post-apocalypic Silo series by Hugh Howey have been great. These authors have been especially helpful because of their expert writing styles. I already feel like my next book will be a better written piece of art from continued reading and reflection.
Seriously, though, if you have been slacking on your reading, pick up a book! Reading has been proven to decrease your risk of dementia later in life. And if you've lost your passion for reading, maybe try a different genre. Not much time because of, you know, life? Just aim for 15 minutes a night before you go to bed. Do yourself a favor and escape into another place for a few minutes a day.
Let me know what books you're reading and love and I will definitely look into them!