The other day, I was talking with my dad about a book I'd taken out of the library. "I may glance at it," he told me, "but I don't really read anymore." I didn't say anything but my internal response was, "Huh?" My dad reads the paper regularly, reads information on the Internet almost daily, and often browses through books that I bring home from the library, even if he doesn't read the whole thing. Oh, and later that day, he started reading through a non-fiction book of mine. Only a few days later, he's over halfway through. While I don't think I've ever seen him read through a novel, he regularly reads.
I've read articles about people downplaying their reading when they don't read "literature," but this was the first time I saw someone do it. I've always considered my family a family of readers, but my dad was discounting the huge amount of reading he does because he doesn't read entire works of fiction. I wonder, if even readers would count up the amount of time and pages they read on books they didn't finish, how much time and how many pages would be represented?
Why do we count a particular type of reading as "real"? Who perpetuates ideas of "real" reading, and what can librarians do to provide services to people in the community who may not use the library because they aren't "readers," when they really are?