The conversion of converts? | opinion

Portugal is one of the countries in Europe where people read less and buy fewer books. The country is separated from reading and this is reflected in the scarcity of newspaper consumption. If you look at the numbers, the picture is bleak: around 40 percent of Portuguese only read one book a year. Now it is neither new nor a scandal that for many Portuguese books are at the forefront of what is superfluous. Because?

I took the numbers from a little social experiment that I carried out: I posted the same factual post on two social networks, Facebook and Twitter, and got different reactions.

On Facebook, a network that “controls” the selection of “friends”, comments from those who read and read a lot have multiplied, regardless of whether they are buying new books, buying used ones, or using library loans. In terms of age, it’s my generation, or the generation just below or just above mine, and it’s people I share common interests with, including reading. In my bubble that you read, books are offered, books are bought, and there is something that challenges us. However, as Ortega Y Gassett said: “I am me and my circumstance”.

On Twitter, a social network that is not “controlled”, the post, as it is called in a new language, went “viral”, especially among Millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) and Generation Z (born after 1997). I quote some comments: “Yes, why am I going to spend money on a book when I can have it online?”, “I don’t like it and I don’t like reading it. I don’t think I’m serious … “,” I have to be the guy who lowers this average the most, ahahahaha “,” At the age of 21 I read 3 books to the end, not proud, but it is what it is “. Several of the comments related to the high price of books in Portugal.

Even if one ignores the refreshing disrespect of youth and the provocation of social networks and does not confuse humanity with Manuel Germano, to quote Mário de Carvalho, why do many young people and young adults not read or appreciate reading? The price of books will be part of the equation, but you have to look upstream.

Reading is an act and an individual decision that opens the subject to the world and is a launching pad for interrogation, for this moral virtue, which is curiosity, as Amos Oz said: “A curious person is a better person, a better neighbor, a better personal father, even a better lover than someone who isn’t. “Where was the passion lost? There is only one condition for reconciliation with reading: not asking for anything in return. Curiosity is not forced, it is aroused and it is not about reading and analyzing forms of stylistic resources, as there is a risk that beginners will be breathless along the way.

I ask myself: do young people read very little or is it the generation that children are now learning that has almost stopped reading? What to do with a generation of teachers, including some who shamelessly admit to “not reading books”? What to do with a generation of university professors who, due to lack of time, read no novels, fiction, essays or poems? And how about if we listen to those who don’t read and are still in time? Why are “canonical classics” imposed on him and young authors with whom he identifies are not introduced? Nobody runs a marathon without training.

Nabokov mentions a comic in his essay The Art of Literature and Common Sense: A chimney sweep who falls on the roof of a tall building observes a misspelled poster in autumn and is amazed as it flies because nobody has taken care of it correct. As a society we are a bit like the chimney sweep, we fall, but instead of worrying about the impact on the ground that is expected to be violent and deadly, we look at the “misspellings”.

Conversions for reading do not have to be converted, see “Heretic”.

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