A couple of weeks ago, I had a grand idea: I should ask people about their reading habits, namely, if they read at all, and what they do read. The reason I had this grand idea was because I was having one of those 1 a.m. thought sessions, which are usually about really deep and important things, like where I left my keys, if I want to get up and get a glass of water, or why I can't get that godawful Mariah Carey song out of my head. But this particular thought session was about how I kept reading that nobody reads anymore, and if they do read, they certainly don't read fiction or short stories or poetry. And if they are among the rare who read any of those things, they don't buy these types of books. So I wanted to see if it was true or not. And I figured the only way I could see if it was true or not was by conducting a study, so that's what I did. The results are interesting, if I do say so myself, even if tabulating the results was decidedly not interesting and I often mentioned how irritated I was with myself for having the idea in the first place while I spent warm sunny afternoons entering data into a spreadsheet. But now that I'm done entering data into a spreadsheet, I'm happier about the whole thing.
I am not a scientist nor a statistician and complex math makes my brain curl up in the fetal position and cry, but I do like data and asking people for their opinions. I even (in theory) like making spreadsheets, and I definitely like charts and graphs. So even though this is in no way scientific, and I'm certain the results won't end up being quoted on the evening news, I did the best I could.
First, I needed some people to complete a survey. So I asked people on my blog and in a Flickr group I am active in, and I had some friends ask their friends to participate as well. I was shooting for 100 participants, but when all was said and done, I ended up with 90 who agreed to let me e-mail them a survey. I sent out an 18-question survey to people, asking for them to be returned by May 30. Of the 90 surveys I sent out, I received 67. I was a little annoyed about that, mainly because I like nice, round numbers and 67 is pretty much the antithesis of nice and round, but even so, 67 responses were way more than I had been expecting so I was generally pleased. Anyway, the 67 responses came to my e-mail and I hand-entered them into a spreadsheet I created specifically for entering survey data. This was very boring. Once I was done entering the data, I had to decide what to do with it. I'd already promised Levi that I was going to make graphs, and I decided that although it's nerdy enough to make graphs from data about people's reading habits, it would be even nerdier (and at least 10 times more awesome) if I made the graphs by hand. Since I am all about awesome nerdiness (why am I still single? It's a mystery), I went and bought some graph paper. (One of the joys, or pains-in-the-ass, rather, of small-town living: I had to go to another town to buy the graph paper. May the environment forgive me.)
And without further ado, let's get it on. I mean, let's learn about reading. I mean, here, have some charts and graphs. (You can click on any of the graphs to make them bigger.
Of the 67 respondents, 56 were from the United States, and 11 were from other countries: Canada (4), Italy (2), Germany (1), the Czech Republic (1), the United Kingdom (1), the Philippines (1), New Zealand (1). I know it's lame that the graph is broken up into "United States" and "Other" but a) the arcs for each individual country would've been pretty small, and b) I'm kinda lazy.
There were 29 men and 38 women.
The majority of respondents (25) were in the 18-30 age group; 18 were 31-40, 11 were 41-50, and 13 were 50+.
The Things We Read
Since it's possible to be a reader without reading books, I next asked what types of things people read on a regular basis: books (94%), print newspapers (42%), print magazines/journals (75%), online newspapers (67%), online magazines/journals (58%), and other websites/blogs (97%). As you can see, the front runners are books and websites/blogs, with websites/blogs edging out books by 3%.
When asked which one type of publication people read the most (on a monthly basis), the battle still remained between books (36%) and websites/blogs (37%), with websites/blogs just barely coming out on top by 1 point. Coming in third was online newspapers (12%), fourth was print magazines/journals (7%), and web magazines/journals and print newspapers tied for last place with 4% each.
I was interested in seeing if reading habits had anything to do with the age of the respondents, so I made a couple of extra graphs to illustrate this. Or at least I think it illustrates this. The first graph shows each type of publication read, broken down into different age categories. Don't freak out about the fact that the percentages here add up to more than 100. People were allowed to choose any or all of the listed choices, so each line on the graph is its own percentage of 100. I hope that makes sense. My point is that if you tell me that these add up to more than 100, I will say "I KNOW. That's the point."
As we can see, books average highly across age groups: 92% of 18-30 year olds read books regularly, 94% of 31-40 year olds do, 100% of 41-50 year olds do, and 85% of those in the 50+ age group do. The only other type of publication faring more highly was Other Websites/Blogs, with 96% (18-30), 100% (31-40), 100% (41-50) and 92% (50+). The type of publication type with the lowest regular readership was print newspapers, with 16% of 18-30 age group, 44% of 31-40 age group, and 46% of the 50+ age group. The only group that scored print newspapers over 50% was the 41-50 age group, coming in at 82% stating that they read them regularly.
The second graph again illustrates the various types of publications people read, though in this case, respondents were asked to select one that they read the most:
The only age group with a higher percentage of website/blog readers than book readers was the 18-30 year old group, with 44% answering that they read websites/blogs the most compared to 32% who read books the most. Otherwise, books edge out websites/blogs, by 5 points in the 31-40 group (44% for books, 39% for websites/blogs), by 10 points in the 41-50 group (37% for books, 27% for websites/blogs), and by 12 points in the 50+ group (35% for books, 23% for websites/blogs). Among 18-30 year olds, 0 answered that they read print newspapers the most, compared to 5% in the 31-40 group, and 9% each in the 41-50 and 50+ groups.
In the battle between fiction and nonfiction, fiction comes out victorious by a landslide, with 72% of respondents stating that they read it more, compared to the 28% who chose nonfiction.
As for independent literature (which I defined as small press or self-published work), 39% say they read it, and 61% say they don't. Had I thought about it at the time I was writing up the survey, I would've asked the reason why people don't read indie lit (if they don't). Despite my not asking, some people said it was because they didn't know it was out there or where to find it, but for the ones who didn't, I'm wondering if this was the case, or if in any way, it has anything to do with a stigma that is often attached to indie lit, in that if it was really worth reading, it would be published by a big publishing house. I should've asked the question and I didn't, so if any of you would care to shed some light on this, that would be swell. And here is a graph:
I got really sick of drawing graphs by hand at this point (I guess there are limits to my awesome nerdiness), so I'm just going to give you numbers for readers of short stories and poetry, and that's totally okay, isn't it? I know. Right.
So, of those surveyed, 64% say they read short stories, whereas 36% say they don't. Of those who read short stories, the majority of them (70%) read those stories in collections (either by the same author or various authors), 13% read stories online, and 17% read them in magazines or journals. As for purchasing short stories, 58% buy them occasionally, 35% seldom buy them, 2% often buy stories, and 5% never buy them.
When it comes to reading poetry, 63% of people say they do and 37% say they don't. 23% read poetry online, 19% read it in magazines/journals, and 57% read it in books (collections either by the same author or various authors). As for purchasing poetry, the numbers are entirely unsurprising: 2% say they purchase it often, 24% purchase it occasionally, 55% purchase it seldom, and 19% never purchase poetry. (I actually thought the "never" percentage would be higher, because I'm like that.)
How Much We Read
In terms of how many books people read per month, most people (22%) average 2 books a month. The rest, from highest percentage to lowest:
- 4: 21%
- 3: 18%
- 1: 15%
- Less than 1: 7%
- 6: 6%
- 7: 4%
- 10 or more: 3%
- 5: 2%
- 8: 2%
- 9: 0%
Why We Read
The majority of people (73%) read for entertainment. 20% read for education, 6% read for something to do while traveling/commuting, and 1% read for another reason, that other reason being, and I quote, "Enjoyment. Watching two ducks fight over a hunk of bread is entertaining, but not particularly enjoyable. Know what I mean, Verne?" (To which I reply, fair enough. And way to quote Ernest!)
Purchasing and Borrowing
Other than occasionally or seldom or never buying short stories and poetry, I asked people what type of thing they would purchase from a bookstore or borrow from a library. By far, the most popular thing to get was contemporary (non-genre) fiction, with 34% choosing it. The rest, in order of popularity:
- Genre fiction (mystery, horror, science fiction, romance, etc.): 21%
- Other (most frequent choices were science, history, sociology): 12%
- Classic literature: 10%
- A how-to book (cooking, gardening, photography, etc.): 10%
- Short stories: 4%
- Biography of a famous person: 4%
- Poetry: 3%
- A magazine: 2%
I asked people, if they were reading something, what it was that they were reading. I was mostly curious to see if there was going to be any overlap in people's choices, but there overwhelmingly wasn't. Not a bit. So, instead of providing you with a hideously long list of titles and authors, I'll just tell you I found out that almost every person who responded was reading (or had just finished) something, and out of those people, more than half were reading more than one book. Though I didn't look up individual books listed on Amazon or someplace like it to see if each title was indeed fiction or nonfiction, it looked like the split between the two was a bit more equitable.
I think there is one major flaw in the application of this survey, in that it doesn't deal with a random sample, and instead I got people to participate by asking if they'd like to take a survey about reading. While I made it clear that the survey was equally open to readers and non-readers alike, I think the nature of the question led to the sample being heavily skewed toward readers. This is fine, and I learned a lot, though I did include a section of the survey for people who didn't read in their spare time, and only one person completed this section (citing lack of interest as a reason for not reading books for pleasure). I know that there must be more people out there who don't read for pleasure, and while I was interested in finding out their opinions as well, it pretty much didn't work out that way.
All in all, I think it was interesting to learn more about other people's reading habits (and I was especially fascinated by the people who say they read 10 or more books a month -- where do you find time? I'm a little envious). I don't think I've ever written a blog post with a calculator and a spreadsheet in my lap before, but there's always a first time for everything. And I'm pretty sure I am never going to draw graphs by hand again as long as I live, or at least not for another year or so, whatever comes first.
My thanks go out to everyone who participated, and to my friends for letting me complain about how long it takes to draw graphs, and for explaining effective graphing methods to me when I got stuck trying to figure out how to present multiple data sets in one place. Cheers. The end.
1. Joe Panther
The protagonist in two crime novels written by Andrew Masterson, The Last Days: The Apocryphon of Joe Panther and The Second Coming: The Passion of Joe Panther, the eponymous Joe Panther is a wickedly smart, wonderfully sarcastic, beer-drinking, drug-dealing investigator. And he's also... Jesus. You know that whole son of God thing with the dying on the cross and being raised from the dead on the third day? That's the one. Minus the ascending into Heaven and sitting at the right hand of God the Father forever and ever amen, that is. Yep, instead of that, he was inexplicably left to wander the planet and has been doing so for a couple of millennia, witnessing human folly and the uprising of organized religion and developing a bitterness toward his father. Both books are entertaining yarns, mixed with a fair bit of Christian history and theology (obviously in many ways turned on its ear) and despite the fact that their premise alone is enough to offend many people nearly to death, they make for enjoyable Saturday afternoon reads. Sort of modern-day noir with an angry, irreverent Jesus as the hard-boiled, world-weary private eye. I'm not sure that the books were ever published in the United States, and the tiny bit of research I've done suggests that they weren't (my copies were sent to me as gifts from a friend in Australia, which is the country the author hails from and where the novels are set). But when it comes to thinking about fictional characters in terms of memorability, it's pretty hard to beat Jesus, the crime-solving heroin dealer.
2. Margery Kempe
I read The Book of Margery Kempe a couple of years ago. It's still sitting on my shelf and I can see it as I type this. Or I could see it as I type this if I didn't have a voluminous feather boa hanging off of the edge of my closet door, obscuring my view. Damn feathers. Why must they be so fabulous? I don't know. What I do know is that when I'm looking at my books (sans feathers) and I notice Margery Kempe's autobiography, I always have the same reaction: I shake my head. Granted, I had to go back and read my initial assessment (linked above) to remember details of her story, but I remembered that she had a penchant for wailing uncontrollably all the time because she was just so overcome with her love of Jesus or because she wanted people to notice how overcome she was with her love of Jesus, or whatever. In any case, the thing that has stuck with me over the past two years, and will most likely continue to stick with me in the future is one tiny detail: that woman was nuts.
3. Rebecca deWinter
The title character of Daphne duMaurier's Rebecca dies before any of the novel's action takes place, and she never makes any supernatural appearances as a ghost or anything, but her presence is so fully defined in the novel that she inhabits every page, much like her memory haunts Manderley and the new Mrs. deWinter. She's the most powerful figure in the novel (though the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers is easily the creepiest) and I think it's telling that the greatest character in the book isn't even really there.
4. Trout Fishing in America
Yes, I think Trout Fishing in America is a character in Richard Brautigan's novel of the same name, mainly because Trout Fishing in America explains things. And also is responsible for one of my favorite bits in all of American literature, or of all literature, period. Seriously --
The Reply of Trout Fishing in America:
There was nothing I could do. I couldn't change a flight of stairs into a creek. The boy walked back to where he came from. The same thing once happened to me. I remember mistaking an old woman for a trout stream in Vermont, and I had to beg her pardon.
"Excuse me," I said. "I thought you were a trout stream."
"I'm not," she said.
Sometimes I think about that and giggle. Good on you, Trout Fishing in America.
5. Laura Wingfield
Tennessee Williams is often so dramatic (fitting for plays, I suppose). And I love so much of his work and the steamy humid Southern boiling heat of it all, but in all of that, The Glass Menagerie is like a tiny gentle gasp. Sure, it's probably more obvious to pick Blanche duBois or Maggie the Cat, but it is Laura Wingfield that I remember the most strongly. The first thing I read by Tennessee Williams, I picked this play up when I was 14 and by the time I got through Tom's closing speech, I was crushed. I'd reacted emotionally to things I'd read before that point, but I'm not sure I'd ever been completely crushed by something yet. And Laura, the center of the play, hangs in my memory like a beautifully delicate translucent piece of glass. I'm feeling a little crushed now, actually, just thinking about it.
It's been an interesting experience, and I've encountered books that I've enjoyed, and books that have made me want to claw out my eyes, as one would when undertaking such a project. My reason for embarking on the Jamelah Reads the Classics series was a simple one -- there are a lot of books in the world, and maybe I should make a concerted effort to read some of the ones I haven't gotten to yet. Easy as that. So that's what I've been doing, simply as a reader, not as a scholar or a snob or anything. Just to read.
Back in my student days, I spent literature course after literature course analyzing novels and stories and poems for statements about race, class and gender, and I remember telling a friend that reading had become so much work, because, I said "I can't just read a book. I always have to be on the lookout for what it all MEANS." He replied that maybe I was still enjoying literature, just in a different way, but I remained dubious. And it only got worse when I got serious about writing, because then, not only was I constantly analyzing every line of everything for some hidden meaning, I was also paying close attention to the way everything was written and thinking about why these writers chose to write the things they did. It got exhausting, and I didn't want to read anymore.
But once a reader, always a reader, and over time, I figured out that hey, nobody's making me write papers about this stuff, so I can kind of, you know, just read it. Which is what I do. And when it comes to reading the classics, I've found that they're infinitely more enjoyable when I read them like they're regular books, which, it turns out, they are. This may not seem like news, at least not on the surface, yet over the years I've been writing my series on the classics I read, I've discovered that to some, classic works of literature aren't just books, they are The Hallowed Classics and should be revered as such.
And this is where I get to the point, because when it comes to that opinion, I call bullshit.
At what point does a book lose its status as a book and become some sort of incontrovertible entity of greatness? After it's survived for years and had people fawn over its brilliance for a generation or more? Ridiculous. Certainly, some books are indeed wonderful or powerful or great (or some or all of the above) but that does not raise them above opinion, and I don't care if they've been around for 500 years or 5 minutes. Books are books. That's all. Just books.
I wrote last week about how it's a shame that some of the books that are good for us are sometimes so awfully dull, and it's little fun to live on a literary diet of so-called healthy reading alone. It's a position I stand by, though I didn't get into the other point I wanted to make, which is that I don't think we do classic literature any favors by not giving anybody any reason to read it other than it's supposedly so great. Of course, opinions differ on what's great and what's not as great (as some of the comments on that post will attest), but "great" is not really all that descriptive. Why should I (or anyone) want to read something by someone who's been dead for at least 100 years? Because it's great? Why? Because. So shut up and eat your vegetables? Please.
So much so-called great literature does little more than sit on library shelves, and sure, people may think it's great because that's what they've been told to believe, but how often do people pick up (and finish reading), say, Don Quixote? Maybe if we'd stop treating classic literature like it's some sort of rarefied untouchable thing and start treating it like it is what it really is -- stuff meant to be consumed for entertainment -- then more people might be interested in interacting with it. There's enough stuff in the world competing for my attention, and I'm not going to read a book if I can't enjoy it. If I can't poke a stick at Dante or think Margery Kempe was completely fucking insane. And you know what? I really did think Anna Karenina was long and boring and I couldn't be bothered to finish it. And so what? It's just a book. They're all just books. Not liking them, not reading them, not revering them like they're sacred... well, it's not that big of a deal. It's not on par with pushing strangers out into traffic or drowning puppies. For instance.
Every form of entertainment has its devoted superfans, and literature is no different, but nobody likes to talk about stuff with pretentious snobs (except maybe other pretentious snobs). I used to be a book snob, but I got over it, because for one thing, I think that's something you're supposed to do once you're over the age of 25, and for another thing, when it comes down to it, reading is really nothing more than just another form of entertainment, and it doesn't do any good to pretend like it's something else.
Nine Depressing True Life Adult Counterparts of Beloved Children's Books (my favorite is Ramona Quimby, Failed Graphic Designer)
It's a pretty funny list, and it made me think about how often times, the ending is not enough. A lot of the time when I get to the end of a book, reading the last page is just a jumping-off point for my imagination to wander through all the possibilities of what might happen next. (And just as many times, I am relieved to get to the end of the book because reading it was such a horrible chore, or I am angered by the ending of a book because I can't believe I read everything and that was the way it ended -- I'm looking at YOU, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, or I would be if I had not thrown you across the room and left you in the corner six years ago in a different house. But these are different subjects for different days.)
Anyway, what is it with us? That the end isn't good enough? That we have to pick up where the story left off? As much as I understand it, there's an equal part of me that doesn't get it at all. While I will watch movie sequels (for example, I have every Die Hard movie ever made on DVD, and shut up, they're awesome), I'm not a big fan of book sequels. Perhaps this is because when I was 13, I read Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley's sequel to Margaret Mitchell's classic, Gone With the Wind, and hated every second of it. (My habit of talking back to books was born then; I kept saying "Oh come on" to the text as I read.) Since then, I have never read a sequel to a book that wasn't written by the book's original author, and most of the time, I skip the same-author-penned sequels too.
I don't know if I'm necessarily a rare case, but when I was looking around for information on stories that follow-up books that have already been written, I came across a hell of a lot of fan fiction (and accidentally stumbled across some of the gay Harry Potter variety, hoo boy). I knew there was all kinds of this stuff out there, from Anne of Green Gables fanfic to the most famous example (that I can think of, but then I am a Jane Austen nerd), Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, a sequel to Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I haven't read it, but apparently after Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy get married, they have lots and lots of super hot sex. A boinkfest, if you will. And if you've ever read Pride and Prejudice you totally know that's going to happen anyway, even without a written sequel.
Now, I'm not against fan fiction or sequels at all, but I don't think they're my kind of thing. I guess for me, while I might like to think from time to time about what happens to characters after I've read the last sentence of a book, I don't want anybody to tell me what they think happens, nor do I want to tell anybody else what I think happens. It's sort of a personal thing, or at least it's individual, kind of like the way I imagine what characters look like as I read (and then film adaptations, no matter how good they are, always get it wrong).
It's an interesting thing to do as a writer, I think, taking on a world of characters that has already been created and making something new from it. It's not something I would do, because I have enough trouble with the stuff I make up on my own, but I'm sort of fascinated by it. Is it devotion, disappointment with the ending, a need for the characters to keep going, that drives people to write sequels to books? Why not just write something completely new? (And what exactly is the dividing line between a sequel and fan fiction?) I'm curious.
And while I'm in question mode, and because I think it might be interesting, what books can you think of that need sequels?
"It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore," he said. "Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore."
Wow. I am generally fond of Steve Jobs and his skinny laptops and ever-morphing iPods, but he is way off here. I am confused how Steve must spend his time and I guess he must live a sheltered life, because I see people around me reading all the time. All you have to do is sit on a subway or train and observe the numerous book-absorbed minds around you to know that Steve Jobs is wrong. Oh, there's also the fact that publishers rack up about 35 billion dollars in book sales each year, roughly as much as the music business or the film business.
I think Steve Jobs is a smart guy, but he sure missed this call.
2. And in other musical news, Anne Frank's diary: in song.
3. And in other other musical news, despite the fact that the film version hasn't really gotten off the ground, people are in talks to make a Broadway musical version of On the Road. Okay, I just totally made that up, but I had you for a second, didn't I? Didn't I? Admit it. I did.
4. Apparently around 25% of Brits didn't read a single book last year, and furthermore lie to say that they've read books they haven't. (I'm sure the same can be said of Americans.) But reading is good for you.
5. Fiction needs to quit with the solipsism, already.
6. From Australia, an opinion piece about helping young people enjoy reading. I think really cool books would help.
7. NPR has a blurb about Richard Wright's final, unfinished novel being published by his daughter, with the added bonus of being able to listen to the full story.
8. On literature and memory.
9. If you're looking for a literary vacation, then perhaps you might be interested in touring cool bookstores?
I'm always glad when the Nobel Prize winner turns out to be an author I've actually read (and this happens less often than I like to admit). I've only read one Doris Lessing novel, 1989's The Fifth Child, but the book has stuck with me all these years.
The Fifth Child is a fable about a happy family. They have one child and everything is great. They have another and everything is great. Then another, and another. Now they have four wonderful children, but as they prepare to welcome a fifth several members of the family begin to suffer from unexpected feelings of dread. Indeed, the new baby arrives looking strangely primitive, almost monstrous, and he doesn't seem to be tuned in to the same sense of joy and togetherness that the rest of the family thrives on.
The story veers towards the disturbing and the tragic, and Lessing's message seems clear: there is an invisible line between blessed happiness and self-indulgent over-happiness, and this line is all too easy to cross. There's also the slightest suggestion that the fifth child is not actually intrinsically different from the rest, but rather that the perfect family found itself unable to extend its love to yet another newcomer.
A year ago I listed Cormac McCarthy as one of the five overrated writers of 2006. This was just a couple of months before McCarthy's The Road was published, and I had no idea what agonies lay in store.
I am simply baffled, just straight out bewildered, by the fact that so many people whose opinions I respect -- Oprah Winfrey, the numerous Morning News Tournament of Books judges, even my friend Jeff Bryant (who I usually agree with, and who shares my love for Kerouac and Bukowski) -- are calling Cormac McCarthy a great writer and The Road a masterpiece. I certainly can't believe that all these smart people are wrong and I am right -- yet at the same time I have made every honest effort to understand what I am missing. I even bought The Road, intending to give it a fair read, a fresh start, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this will be the Cormac McCarthy novel I can finally stand.
The industry is buzzing about chick-lit again. I don't know much about this whole phenomenon, except in a strange way I do, because I was raised on chick-lit. As a kid in the 1970s, the first grownup books I read (and really enjoyed) were the racy, funny and wise novels that my grandmother, my mother and my older sister left lying around the house. These books had a big influence on me, and I wonder if the chick-lit of today could possibly be as good.
This is my copy of Adrienne Rich's collection of poetry, The Fact of a Doorframe, which I've had since I was 19 or so, and it's probably the most-used book in my collection. For me at least, there's always something to be found in that book of poems, and I turn to it often, just because I know that I can count on it for some good reading, even though now I have to mind the pages and be very careful so as not to have the entire thing fall apart.
But there's something about reading for pleasure, something that goes beyond the tactile experience, something as intangible as a feeling. Like falling in love, or getting champagne bubbles up your nose, or kissing that cute someone for the very first time, there's a feeling that goes along with reading something great that is just indescribably good. Of course, if you've read something and truly loved it, then what I'm writing isn't news, but it's something that doesn't get talked about much. From books whose endings are so insanely perfect that I'm left reading the last sentence or paragraph 10 or 15 times before letting go (Immortality by Milan Kundera and On the Road by Jack Kerouac come to mind) to openings so amazing that there's nothing to do but be excited about the book in your hands (like, say, the opening of Lolita), reading for pleasure is just that: a pleasure.
In a world overrun with information, from blogs to news to RSS feeds to e-mail, blogs about books, blogs about news, even probably blogs about RSS feeds and e-mail, it's pretty easy to spend all day reading, but -- and maybe this is just me -- it's pretty easy not to enjoy any of this constant bombardment of words. Yet even though the really good books are often neither quick nor easy, they're definitely worth the effort. Like love, I suppose.
I do love books. Don't you?