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Reluctant Readers, Really?

I’ve been a naughty boy. It has been 7 weeks since my last blog post (at least0! I have written some posts in that time, but the gap seemed so large that I scrapped them because I felt I had to come back with something a little bit bigger than my usual crap, so I’ve gone ahead and written something that I’ve wanted to write about for months now.

Reluctant Readers.

When I wrote One Seriously Messed-Up Week… I had no idea I was writing for reluctant readers. I had no idea I was writing for young adults, that I was writing for boys, or that I was even writing a book really (or at least a book that anyone was ever going to read). The term ‘reluctant reader’ was completely new to me, but the sad thing is – I didn’t need it explaining. In a world* where girls continually outshine the boys academically, it seems depressingly obvious that boys should also be the ones who don’t read for fun.

Okay, when I say “boys” I’m obviously talking in a very broad and generalised term. We all know plenty of boys who love reading just as much as (if not more than) their female peers. But unfortunately, in broad and general numbers, teenage boys do read a lot less than teenage girls. I would love to be fully educated on the matter, know all the facts, figures, and statistics, but, me being me, decided that would take ages, so I’ll pick it all up on the way (and we wonder why boys don’t bother with books! Could it be sheer laziness?)

My aim here is to start some kind of discussion (and yes, I am aware that my blogging absence may have lead to a sharp drop in my already limited blog-reader numbers, which may result in me having this discussion with no one else but myself, but I’m okay with that). I come across a lot of people (sometimes teen boys, but more often than not it’s their mums) who congratulate me on writing something that they/their son has actually picked up and read. The mums then go on to explain how they managed to get their son to actually open the book in the first place (usually using some kind of reverse psychology trickery, or just by simply leaving the book lying around until curiosity gets the better of them, they read the first word, then they disappear to their bedroom to giggle about rude things in private). THIS is the part that really interests me.

Are you a reluctant reader? Did you used to be? Do you know one? Or, like me, are you a very eager reader, but rarely get the chance to actually commit to anything (due to either lack of time or crapness of book)? If so, what would/did/does finally get you/them to pick up a book?

It makes sense that people who already read will continue to do so. But how do you draw in the ones who aren’t bothered? And why would they be bothered when there are so many other alternatives to entertain them? Internet, movies, gaming, sports, TV… Don’t books just seem a bit slow and hard work in comparison? What’s the selling point?

I’d love to hear your ideas on this, not because I’m a publicity hungry, money-craving author, desperate to know how to sell more books (if I was then surely I’d drop what I currently do and start writing dark romance/dystopia for girls, NOT that people who do write those genres are! Just… oh, you know what I mean) but because this is a genuine interest to me. It’s a problem that I want to solve, an itch that I need to scratch. It’s almost becoming my hobby, thinking about this.

So, please, how would you suggest we get reluctant readers to pick up a book (and read it)?

*not the whole world, but most of it.
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