To read or not to read

According to an in the Star Online, the International Book Fair has an aim of seeing every Malaysian holding a book in the near future.

This is a noble aim, truly. And quite a heartfelt one for me too, because I love reading, and can’t see any reason behind anyone not liking to read. And books are my favourite.

But is this International Book Fair really enough?

I don’t think so.

Up till today, there are still many Malaysians who do not read. But of course, they read when they HAVE to, like text books in school, or reports on company growth. But reading out of interest, or thirst of knowledge, or just to pass time, is something that hasn’t grown in Malaysia at all.

Why, do you think, that this is the case?

I believe that it has to do with education. The upbringing of our children. When they are not brought up to read, then they don’t develop the interest, and obviously, it’s going to be much much more difficult to cultivate this kind of culture as these people grow older.

In Malaysian culture where most people concentrate mostly on making a living, there isn’t much time to indulge in reading, nevermind if it’s fiction or non-fiction. They just don’t have the time and energy to pick up any book, let alone read it from cover to cover.

The young aren’t being encouraged enough. They don’t see the point in reading. And their parents are not doing that well in trying to get their children to read when they themselves don’t make it a habit.

Hey, I’m not trying to change society here. It’s just I think that before goals like this can be made and achieved, something has to be done at a younger age. The people who actually go to these Book Fairs are normally adults, and only some of them bring their children. But as the saying goes “Melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya“. Children should be our main focus, when we try to gear our society towards a more knowledgable one, where all of us enjoy reading.

Another main problem with trying to cultivate reading as a culture, is actually quite clear. How many of us actually go to the National Library? How many of us actually KNOW where it is? Currently, there isn’t any public transportation, except probably one, which is actually a bus enroute from KLCC to Titiwangsa.

There are KL buses that take passengers to Mid Valley, Sunway Pyramid, Titiwangsa, 1 Utama, and the other shopping complexes and places of recreation. Obviously, the National Library doesn’t make the cut. There are no buses, no LRTs, no Monorails, no NOTHING! Except if you drive. And in case you’re worried about there being not enough parking spaces, you can rest easy, because although there is a SERIOUS lack of parkings spots there, you’re bound to be able to find one, because it’s rarely full.

What does this tell us?

The library would be a great source of information, especially for school-going people. And of course, students who are still in Primary or Secondary school would not be driving yet. So they have to rely on their parents to get them there, who in turn are too busy with their work schedule to be able to make time for their children and bring them there. So, although there may have been some interest starting to spark in these young minds, it has been dimmed by the fact that their parents can’t take them there, and they themselves have no way of getting there by themselves.

Humans are animals of convenience and habit. They first do the thing that is most convenient, and avoid doing things that are NOT convenient. Then, the continue doing that thing which is most convenient, out of habit.

If we can make going to the library a convenient action, then we Malaysians might actually start frequenting the place more often. And after a while, we start going there out of habit. So first off, we have to make it convenient. Is that so difficult?

And since I’m already on the topic, I might as well go on and say, please update the material you have in the library. The world is changing, and new knowledge and information is always coming forward. If the books there are not up to date, then it defeats its own purpose of being a source of information, no?


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