Turks read less as they get older
In Turkey the reading ratio is lowest in the Aegean, Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
We have learned this information from Libonet’s research on readers’ profiles and book-purchasing behaviors.
According to research, the Marmara region tops the list with 34 percent, while Central Anatolia follows at 17 percent. Then comes Southeast Anatolia at 15 percent and East Anatolia at 10 percent.
The Black Sea and the Aegean region come next at 9 percent, with the Mediterranean finishing last at 6 percent.
The numbers are very surprising because we expect those living in the coastal areas to be more advanced in the cultural and economic sphere, more open to the world and more intellectual.
But the results contradict this assumption.
Feeling the need for an expert’s view, I talked with Sırma Köksal, the editor-in-chief of Can Publications.
She said the results surprised her, too. “The touristic life might have a role to play. Perhaps people there are fonder of daily entertainment and pleasures. İzmir and Antalya are cities with universities where the young population is high. But in a weird way, they have an inward-looking life.”
Turks read less as they get older
Another finding in the research is the reading ratios according to age groups. My dream for retirement is to read books that I did not have time to read while working.
Köksal laughed at that and said, “You know the dream of reading in retirement is like finishing reading all books on your vacation. But usually you get back from holidays having finished only a few books.”
The reading ratio for the age group 18-35 is 61 percent, according to the research.
Köksal finds the high reading ratio for young ages understandable.
“Young people are curious for life. They want to learn and find out. People are much more politicized when they are young.”
The reading ratio for the 36-50 age group is 29 percent. According to Köksal, this is a period when people work intensely, are constantly running around and raising kids. And this is understandable.
The reading ratio for the 51-65 age group is 10 percent.
This is what she explained.
“In this age group, people are not curious anymore. Everyone retreats to their small lives. The moment the periods of youth and running around end, television and soaps start replacing that curiosity. People’s souls in Turkey get old very quickly. Retirement conditions are not like they are in Europe; it’s a difficult period.”
Obviously a person who want to read can get books from the library even if they have economic difficulties.
Perhaps those reaching the age of retirement cannot read because they have to continue working.
Or perhaps they want to get away from the world’s darkness. Thinking that they can change the world, they might get hold of books and information when they are young, but then become convinced as they get old that they have no time and energy left to change. Who can know?
“Perhaps they might think; what good will it do if I learn something new after this age?” said Köksal.
One of the answers that came out in the research when people are asked why they read books is this:
“Reading a novel is a waste of time. It is more beneficial to read something that can be useful.”
This in fact shows our essential problem and relationship to books.
Reading is imposed on us in our childhood as an obligation. It’s as if we have a perception that says, “Books are read to finish school, learn and get benefits.”
Yet books are read to travel other worlds, experience adventures we don’t have the opportunity to experience, to learn the needs of others and be entertained.
Perhaps Turkish society is not aware of that.
At a time when the average human life span is nearing 80, it is sad to see that the curiosity for life is being exhausted by one’s 50s.