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Confession: What really kills our desire for storybooks

Fiction fans spill the beans on what kills their reading mojo; Arts Council spills the beans on what kills literary fiction. Welcome to A Week In Book News.

Why people get put off reading fictions

A reader confessed on a Reddit forum that “3.5 years of college killed my ability to read for fun”. She remedied this by challenging herself to “read one book each month”.

To her surprise, over 300 fellow Redditors – from postgrads and scientists to burnt out office types – responded to her post, admitting that they, too, have suffered from the same reading fatigue.

They blamed their loss of interest in fiction on academic reading and having to spend more time reading – or crunching numbers – for work than for pleasure.

“Reading is work” rut

“I’m actually really relieved to hear others feel the same thing,” confessed a Redditor. “I just finished my PhD program in biochemistry this year. I figure I’ve read close on a thousand journal articles and written about a thousand pages between my two theses and my publications. I’ve just started trying to read for recreation again, as it was one of my favourite pastimes, and I’ve been finding I have zero stamina or interest right now. I’m hoping I find my way back soon, too.”

His sentiment was echoed by another Redditor who admitted: “As a former research scientist (retired now), I had way too much stuff to read for work and would only really look at non-work reading for a few minutes before going to sleep. I felt guilty not reading more work papers and reviews.”

Another responded: “For most of my Bachelor’s degree, I still read a lot. But then I started my Master’s and it killed my reading mojo.”

“I felt guilty not reading more work papers and reviews.”

And who would have thought that studying English Literature can put you off recreational reading?

“It’s so sad how common this is for English majors,” said a Redditor, informed by her experience at university. “Almost all of my friends with English degrees say they definitely enjoy reading less and that it took them a few years to get back to how much they used to read.”

Redditors in the thread said their revive their interest in fiction by renewing library memberships and setting aside time to read fiction by cutting down on social media, television and video games. A few got back into it by reading short-form works such as young adult fictions and graphic novels.

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Just some of the books described as “boring” by readers on Goodreads. But nothing can put readers off fictions like the English Literature reading list for the course syllabus, or postgrad dissertations. Or both.

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Why doesn’t America read anymore?

We didn’t say it. NPR did.

 https://www.npr.org/2014/04/01/297690717/why-doesnt-america-read-anymore

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Books that made it beyond print

Fifteen books have been shortlisted for the CAMEO Awards 2018 to celebrate titles that have been successfully adapted for audio, TV, films, stage and games.

The awards, organised by the London Book & Screen Week in conjunction with the London Book Fair 2018, will see ‘diverse’ books from established publishing houses vying for prizes in these categories:

  • Book to Audio Award
  • Book to Film Award
  • Book to Game Award
  • Book to Stage Award
  • Book to TV Award

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High literature: no country for wanna-be’s

You have probably read about the Man Booker Prize thinking of excluding entries from American authors, potentially making it a Commonwealth family affair only. Why resort to this? Protectionism.

Then, you might also have read the report released by The Arts Council in December 2017 about falling sales of literary fiction. The double-dip recession was a problem, but so were changing technology and old business models. These, in turn, posed a challenge in making literary fiction inclusive to writers across all socioeconomic backgrounds.

And once they get published, literary writers often have to take up a second job to supplement their income.

When high-brow fails, go popular

Aware of this situation, many aspiring writers turn to fantasy and sci-fi genres. Female, ethnic minority and LGBT representations are more prominent in science fiction where extra-terrestrial aliens would have no problem being the main protagonists.

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“Read the book, have you?”. Sci-fi fans have no problem accepting Yoda (pictured), one of Star Wars‘ non-human characters, as a hero. Image: © Marvel Comics

But the romance genre can also offer an entry point for aspiring writers. It is, after all, one of the leading genres for e-book self-publishing. Even better, readers put a lot of stock in “the story” – ahead of the author’s reputation – when deciding on which romance novel to buy (source: The Romance Writers of America).

But be careful not to make your heroine too feminist. Whilst tropes such as “friends to lovers”, “soulmate” and “second chance at love” top the list for romance themes, “sassy heroine” comes last on that list.

Also, be careful not to make your romance novel too sexually explicit, unless you don’t mind online publishers re-labelling your work as “erotica”, thus pushing it down the search category.

Related news:
Story Of Books at the London Book Fair
Five Minutes With: Dr Brooke Magnanti, Author & Scientist
Yanis Varoufakis at the Southbank Centre
David Baldacci at the London Book Fair

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