Why Do Some People Hate Books?
And what they can do to start loving them.
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” — J.K. Rowling
Many people hate books and reading in general. I don’t know why, as books are like puppies — loveable, loyal, and can make your life better. But like puppies, books can take getting used to — as you have to put in the work.
Many people hate reading for various reasons. Some equate reading to watching paint dry. For others, reading brings back memories of boring homework they struggled to finish. Or simply it is a reminder of librarians giving the “shhh” of death if you were too loud in the library.
Whatever it is, a negative connotation is associated with reading, whether you know it or not. And this connotation stops you from wanting to read.
One of the most common statements I get throughout my journey helping people find their love of reading is, “I want to read, but I dont like reading.”
When I hear this comment, I think of what J.K Rowling (Harry Potter author), once said:
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
These words are accurate because how do you know you don’t like to read unless you have read everything?
There are billions of books in existence, and I guarantee you haven’t read them all. Even if you lived forever, chances are you still wouldn’t be able to read everything.
Unfortunately, you limit yourself when you cut off the possibility of being exposed to great books. That’s like you saying, “I hate restaurant food,” without trying out the gamut of savory options.
You truly deserve to experience more.
Don’t get me wrong; ultimately, the decision is yours whether to read or not. If you dont want to read, then audiobooks are a viable option. Although I always recommend physical books in general.
While audiobooks can save time and effort, they do not allow users to absorb information as well. Audiobooks lead to a distracted, detached reading experience. In contrast, a physical book can benefit cognitive health, prompting a reader to focus wholeheartedly on the material at hand, or more aptly, in hand.
I can go on, but as you can see I am biased for reading physical books. However, as long as you engage in reading, it’s all good as you will be working your mindset.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” — Joseph Addison
No matter the reason for hating books it is never too late to change.
Here are a few other reasons why some people hate books, and here’s what they can do to start loving them.
1- Books feel foreign.
Many people were not exposed to books early on in life.
In some places around the world, books are considered a luxury item. Therefore, if you can’t afford them, then you did without them.
In other times throughout history, they were considered a rich man’s sport. After all, if you were a pauper, when did you have the time to read? You had to get back to work.
In some ways, that hasn’t changed as wealthy people still have more access to their free time. But the difference now is if you are poor, you also have access to books via library or internet connection. The point is that knowledge is everywhere.
The foremost billionaires dedicate tremendous time to reading. The usual suspects are Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, Elon Musks, and Bill Gates, to name a few. In fact, Bill Gates takes yearly reading vacations, where some of Microsofts greatest innovations were a byproduct.
However, for all of us that do not have a billion dollars associated with our existence, we have to work, make a living, feed kids, etc. So reading in itself is a luxury or an investment as we have to choose where to spend our time.
Growing up, I didn’t have books in my household. I never saw my parents or anyone I knew reading. So I initially thought it was something white people did, as the only people I saw with books were white people on television. How ignorant was I to think such a thing? But as a kid, you won’t know any better if you dont have anyone to show you the way.
It wasn’t until I got into 7th grade when my English teacher introduced the class to read in a passionate way. She was so enthusiastic when the topic of books came up. My previous teachers seemed to just hand out the assignments (at least that's how I remembered).
I was curious as to why she was so excited by a bunch of stitched pages. She assigned us the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, and shortly after, my love of reading began.
Initially, I thought this was a Disney book but little would I know this was a political satire about human life — echoing the Russian revolution.
My actual copy from 7th grade. I will keep this until it disintegrates.
It is so interesting that her choice of this book helped pique my interest in reading, which I cherish today. It is a reminder that once you get exposed to something, you never know where it will take you in life.
Familiarize yourself with books. Get to know them well. I guarantee there are books written on anything you love.
Grab a book on any subject you like and start reading. As reading is an ongoing journey, you never know where it will take you.
2- Insufficient Reading Skills.
People who have “poor” reading skills cannot absorb knowledge and new info at a satisfactory pace.
When a person doesn’t have satisfactory reading skills, they don’t benefit from reading as much as someone who has great reading skills.
When people read at a sluggish pace it troubles and frustrates them. It feels time-consuming as the reading seems to take them “forever,” while others read with ease, making them feel incompetent. They think they are in a race they have to win against others. Keep in mind reading is not a competition.
You dont need to worry how fast someone else is reading; all you need to worry about is how well you can understand the material. As you read more, your reading skills improve, making it easier for you to enjoy the process, strengthening your love of books.
I was fortunate to have found my love of reading in the 7th grade, as I couldn’t imagine my life without reading associated.
Douglass overheard his master condemn the education of slaves. He declared that education would “spoil” Douglass and make him “forever unfit him to be a slave.” His master believed that the ability to read makes a slave “unmanageable” and “discontented.” Upon learning this Douglas made it his mission to learn to read and eventually became not only a devout reader but an orator and one of history’s greatest figures (please read that book if you get a chance).
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass
Develop a routine for your reading skills. The easiest way is to develop a system.
1- Pick a page amount (example, 10 pages) or a timeframe like 10 minutes.
2- Read at the same time daily.
3- Consistently read over the next month to develop the habit.
These small steps will be the beginning of a great reading habit.
3- Wrong Reading Material.
If someone exposes you to the wrong material, it may turn you off.
When I was 14, my social studies teacher told me to read “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy. We were talking about history, and he thought this was right up my alley.
I borrowed the book from the library, and my mood immediately deflated as I saw the massive amount of pages. I was looking for a good read, not more homework. I couldn’t figure out why my teacher recommended such an enormous book when we weren’t reading anything as extensive in class.
I took it home convincing myself to give it a shot, and after a few pages in, I quickly concluded it was a no-go. So I put it away and forgot to return it on time — resulting in my first late fee from the library, about two bucks; I was pissed. Nevertheless, I didn’t attempt to read or even look at that book again.
Exposing someone to the wrong material can prove detrimental to their opinion of the book.
If you want to help someone develop a love of reading, try to persuade them that books are little worlds of adventure. The right stimuli always helps. This is what I do with my toddler as we have fun through every storybook I bring to his attention.
Had my social studies teacher built me up to “War and Peace,” maybe things would have been different; perhaps I would have liked the book after all.
Use a bit of social proof to your advantage.
An example of social proof would be a social media post from a celebrity, influencer, or others promoting a book you want to read. Social proof is exactly how I ended up buying and reading the books “The Almanak of Naval Ravikant” by Eric Jorgensen, “Will” by Will Smith, and “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Which are all incredible reads.
Great word of mouth is wonderful social proof and the easiest way to find great reads is from bestsellers lists or Goodreads reviews.
4- Lack of Concentration.
Many of us are slaves to our minds.
“Our mind is our worst enemy. We try to focus, and our mind wanders off. We try to keep stress at bay, but anxiety keeps us awake at night.” — Sakyong Mipham
We live in the most stimulating time in history with access to technology. Unfortunately, many things compete for your attention simultaneously — social media, phones, tv, funny memes, etc. Attention is now a form of currency and whoever has the most of it can create a new empire.
The downside to mass stimulation is shorter attention spans. I’ve often heard that the average human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish. This says a lot about our current state of concentration due to technology, if true.
People who get distracted easily will find it hard to delve into a book, Add stress or anxiety from our lives to the equation and it can make reading a challenging experience that people justifiably want to avoid.
For example, how can you focus on reading while your mind constantly wanders off to think of tomorrow’s deadline or business trip?
Dedicate time in your schedule for reading and considering your why. I once read an article that stated the average person reads 2–3 books a year while the average CEO reads 4–5 per month. That is a major difference.
Imagine the level of conversations you would have if you read 4–5 books per month about your industry compared to the person who only read 2–3 for the year. You would have a competitive advantage if you applied what you read.
“Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.” — Louis L’Amour
I could go on and on about why some people hate reading, but while it’s easy to feel that way, it is also easy to overcome it.
And it is one of the rare skills with so many benefits.
Book reading should be a lifelong engagement; whether you want to briefly escape from the everyday world or seek new knowledge and wisdom, the journey is different for everyone.
Keep in mind, even if books feel foreign, you dont have the proper reading skills, you got exposed to bad reading material, or you lack the concentration — being a reader will benefit your life.
Mastering the art of reading is not an age-restricted practice, you can discover the many pleasures reading provides at any time.
And it can simply start with one page.
All the best
Writer | Motivator | Reading Habits Coach | Content Creator. Around Me, Everyone Wins!