A while back, I was sitting near three men in a restaurant. The only part of the conversation that I overheard was when they were discussing the new Harry Potter book and one of them, in his early thirties and looking like he is a manager for a chain retail store, maybe car parts, said, "I don't think I've read a book since I was in high school." Not one book? Not even a mystery or a thriller? I have a hard time understanding how someone could deprive themselves of the pleasure of a sustained argument or a well-told story - even though I have one son who would rather be doing something physical, even chores, than reading a book. I see him avoid reading, but I still don't get it.
I find so much to value in books, so much understanding of the world around me and how other people think, that I can't really imagine how an adult would choose not to read. Althought the man probably reads the newspaper and maybe some magazines; he did say "a book", after all, not "anything". But those are short bits and pieces of thought, not a well-thought-through world such as those of Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling or JRR Tolkien or the better mystery writers, or any number of other authors. And they aren't a thoughtful narrative of how the world works or came to be the way it is. But books required sustained attention, and that is hard to come by in our culture unless you make a real effort - and read quickly enough to make it a reasonable effort. From his tone of voice, I don't imagine that the man set out to avoid books, it just happened, along with life; he sounded a little surprised. Maybe he will sit down to read one of the Harry Potter books this winter, and add at least one book to his list of reading.