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Monkeys, something I've noticed a lot over the past few years is that fewer and fewer people seem to be reading for pleasure. Obviously, within the past 6 years of my life, I was a senior in high school for 1 year, in college for 3, and working for 2 -- all of these things leave little room for free time...right?

Well, not really -- come to think of it, during college I did have a lot of free time, and while working a non-finance job I had more free time than I knew what to do with. Even so, as a kid who grew up reading a lot of books throughout my elementary and middle school days, I find myself VERY rarely reading for pleasure these days.

What gives?

The issue isn't that there aren't books that I want to read. For instance, I've had pretty limited exposure to American literature -- Faulkner, Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper -- and even have a list of fiction that I want to dig into. To top it all off, if you've been keeping up with my blog over the past month or so, you'll know that I am currently on an "extended vacation" during which I'm traveling and doing those things that I purportedly didn't have time for in college. Now is the time to crack those books, but...I haven't.

And it's not even American literature...it wouldn't kill me to read some Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Dickens, Tolstoy, the list goes on and on. And why limit ourselves to fiction? Why not read some seminal works of political theory and philosophy -- from Aristotle to the Founding Fathers -- to get a better idea of how the world works and what role thinkers have historically played in its evolution.

Oh wait, Facebook. And eBay. And look, WallStreetOasis. Refresh, refresh, refresh. 2AM already? Zzzzzz...

So what does all this mean?

It's bizarre to think that, based on my own observations, people seem to be less likely to seek out reading materials on their own than they were even 20 years ago. Reading is a chore. It's something you do for that silly humanities class that you have to take despite being a finance major, and let's be real, who actually does the reading anyway? So will these classics be forgotten? Have we really entered an era where SparkNotes and the silver screen undermine the power and beauty of a novel like Les Miserables?

Hell, people even rarely read the "big" pop culture novels of today -- Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, etc. These books require the attention span of a 5-year-old (literally) to get through, but nah, I'll just watch the movie, why bother reading. Note: I have not seen Twilight or any of the HP movies, and don't intend to.

Thoughts, monkeys? Do you read for pleasure? Do you feel that people today are reading less fiction and non-fiction than folks even 10 or 20 years ago? Is it good, is it bad? Discuss.

Thanks for reading. Now stop refreshing this page. #butseriously

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Comments (39)

  • 1000Talents's picture

    If its important to you, you make time. I make a point of reading 20-30 pages per day no matter what.

  • sayandarula's picture

    i used to read for pleasure. but then i discovered drugs...

    Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

  • ReadLine's picture

    The problem is literature, philosophy, etc isn't pleasurable to most people. And I don't really see a problem with that.

  • Koho's picture

    Still try to read when I can.. thing is that I say should I be reading for fun or doing some reading for work and will I regret the answer later? Don't want to "miss something" in regards to my job, so usually I'll do work stuff.. such is life.

  • Going Concern's picture

    If I had an infinite amount of time and patience, I'd probably gobble up all the books I could get my paws on. But unfortunately, I don't. That's where film comes in. As far as pleasure and entertainment go, film is a far superior art form. Film not only has a narrative and dialogue and descriptions of characters and situations, but you also get moving images, you get sound and music, you get so much more and in so much less time - a concentrated blast of awesomeness. Film is also a more powerful medium for telling a story or conveying ideas and emotions. Of course, if you feel that your entertainment medium has to be limited to what was available in the 1700s...

    Of course, this only addresses the aspect of being entertained. For actual information or pure knowledge, like if you want to learn more about philosophy or finance for example, you obviously need some good ol' fashioned chopped tree.

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • West Coast rainmaker's picture

    I read a fair amount. I usually get through 4 books per month. Granted, a lot of these books are related to investing and politics, but that is what I enjoy. I might read a horror or fantasy novel every 2 or 3 months. But generally I like to live in reality, or something close to it.

    I've read probably 90% of the "classics"...but as a teenager. I don't really have desire to revisit them aside from a few (Vonnegut, Steinbeck). I also probably read the equivalent of a small book's worth of news daily. I think that literature was read (and re-read) 100 years ago because there were so few choices.

  • moneymogul's picture

    I have the same issue of wanting to read but not following through with it despite having time. However I have no problem watching multiple movies in my spare time.

    “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.” - Jobs

  • In reply to West Coast rainmaker
    BTbanker's picture

    West Coast rainmaker wrote:
    I read a fair amount. I usually get through 4 books per month. Granted, a lot of these books are related to investing and politics, but that is what I enjoy. I might read a horror or fantasy novel every 2 or 3 months. But generally I like to live in reality, or something close to it.

    I've read probably 90% of the "classics"...but as a teenager. I don't really have desire to revisit them aside from a few (Vonnegut, Steinbeck). I also probably read the equivalent of a small book's worth of news daily. I think that literature was read (and re-read) 100 years ago because there were so few choices.


    Do you have any recommendations for a good book on politics?

  • In The Flesh's picture

    Reading for pleasure is terrific. There's nothing like cracking open "Middlemarch" at the beginning of the month and hacking away at it night after night after work until you're done at the end of the month.

    Heck, I'm the WSO resident book reviewer--reading is awesome, and I refuse to get a Kindle or anything else like that. I enjoy reading precisely because it isn't electronic.

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • In The Flesh's picture

    .

    Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

  • In reply to BTbanker
    West Coast rainmaker's picture

    BTbanker wrote:
    West Coast rainmaker wrote:
    I read a fair amount. I usually get through 4 books per month. Granted, a lot of these books are related to investing and politics, but that is what I enjoy. I might read a horror or fantasy novel every 2 or 3 months. But generally I like to live in reality, or something close to it.

    I've read probably 90% of the "classics"...but as a teenager. I don't really have desire to revisit them aside from a few (Vonnegut, Steinbeck). I also probably read the equivalent of a small book's worth of news daily. I think that literature was read (and re-read) 100 years ago because there were so few choices.


    Do you have any recommendations for a good book on politics?

    Clash of Civilizations was great for international relations. Also like Washington Rules (although it is rather liberal).

  • markhobbus's picture

    I read during my commute/before bed and enjoy it a lot. I am currently in the middle of How I Became A Quant and just finished Ed Thorpe's Beat the Dealer. I find it a much better way to pass the time than mindlessly slashing fruits on an iphone (e.g. people at work are surprised that I know some financial history given that I'm a recent grad)

  • In reply to West Coast rainmaker
    BTbanker's picture

    West Coast rainmaker wrote:
    BTbanker wrote:
    West Coast rainmaker wrote:
    I read a fair amount. I usually get through 4 books per month. Granted, a lot of these books are related to investing and politics, but that is what I enjoy. I might read a horror or fantasy novel every 2 or 3 months. But generally I like to live in reality, or something close to it.

    I've read probably 90% of the "classics"...but as a teenager. I don't really have desire to revisit them aside from a few (Vonnegut, Steinbeck). I also probably read the equivalent of a small book's worth of news daily. I think that literature was read (and re-read) 100 years ago because there were so few choices.


    Do you have any recommendations for a good book on politics?

    Clash of Civilizations was great for international relations. Also like Washington Rules (although it is rather liberal).


    Awesome, thanks.

  • anaismalcolm's picture

    I always try to read at least 2-3 a week; at the beginning of every season I have a "bucket list" of books I want to read, and try to make it through at least 4 (out of 10+, so not like a grand success here). It's difficult given the time constraints, magical time-sucking power of the internet, etc. but worth it. I try to read mostly fiction or things completely unrelated to finance/banking -- I think it's important to stay grounded / have a broader lens...the culture and nature of the job can kind of make you boring otherwise.

  • TOB2020's picture

    I've been trying to justify buying a iPad/mini/Nexus with hopes that I would read more but in reality I would just watch more porn.

  • JohnTuld's picture

    I'm pretty sure alot of people on here have read Liar's Poker, Monkey Business and maybe even American Psycho.

    I'm on the verge of tears by the time I log onto Wall Street Oasis, since I'm positive that a user has thrown monkey shit at me. But they haven't, and relief washes over me in an awesome wave.

  • Plato's picture

    Used to be a big reader and getting back into it. There's definitely something to be said for great books, whether fiction or non-fiction. Just finished Moby Dick which took about a year and would recommend it to anyone. It's long but worth the journey. Our generation is growing stupider in inverse proportion to the amount we read - just look at the grammar on this site and others and e-mails people send.

  • kraziazi's picture

    I was a huge reading nerd when I was younger, but I slowed down at the beginning of college. Just now trying to start up again; interestingly enough I feel more focused (placebo effect?).

    Achilles was only as strong as his heel.

  • hockey1316's picture

    There will never be a single joy of entertainment as brilliant and healing as holding a used or even new book for the first time and reading through it. Screw ebooks and I actually today just created a new book list so ill be going through it soon. Long live reading

  • proptrader14's picture

    I read every day but after reading fiction for years I have switched over to reading exclusively self help/development and spiritual type books because it has all the benefits of entertainment (and gets me really pumped up just reading it) plus I expand my knowledge base, understanding of myself and the world, and also improve a little bit every day. I used to love fiction but I now find I have lost all interest which is surprising.

  • philosophizingphilosoraptor's picture

    Fully agree. My rate of reading has drastically declined since I was in high school and even earlier. I guess once you discover the other hedonistic aspects of life reading takes a back seat, which is really a shame as this should not be the case. I agree with you that Facebook and the internet-refresh society have taken some of the luster off reading, and I am trying to find ways to escape this trap as well.

    To the starving man, beans are caviar

  • Amphipathic's picture

    Getting through the economist every week sucks up all my reading time

  • Moneyman's picture

    It has declined over the years due to this Internet craze and everything but u should make time for atleast some non-fiction which doesnt hv the word 'finance' in it.

  • In reply to Amphipathic
    Moneyman's picture

    Amphipathic wrote:
    Getting through the economist every week sucks up all my reading time

    Same here. But the reading schedule includes WSJ.

  • In reply to Moneyman
    TheSquale's picture

    Moneyman wrote:
    Amphipathic wrote:
    Getting through the economist every week sucks up all my reading time

    Same here. But the reading schedule includes WSJ.

    Same here.
    I never liked reading fictions books as far as I can tell and for politics/business/... matters there is more and more documentaries that explain things as well as books and that I find much more interesting to watch that reading.

  • In reply to JohnTuld
    Oreos's picture

    JohnTuld wrote:
    I'm pretty sure alot of people on here have read Liar's Poker, Monkey Business and maybe even American Psycho.

    this is a joke right?

    .

  • In reply to Oreos
    JohnTuld's picture

    yes haha.

    I'm on the verge of tears by the time I log onto Wall Street Oasis, since I'm positive that a user has thrown monkey shit at me. But they haven't, and relief washes over me in an awesome wave.

  • rnellis2002's picture

    yep, definitely read for please. Of course these days, it's consuming content on the tablet.

  • Going Concern's picture

    Speaking of books, any other bros looking forward to the Ender's Game film adaptation coming out in a few months? Novel won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards in the 80s, and rightfully so since it's so damn good. If the film adaptation is as good as the adaptation of Carl Sagan's work, it could be very promising. Someone should make a film adaptation of Stranger in a Strange Land, though that could get a little tricky.

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • Going Concern's picture

    The difference between a film and novel is like the difference between a double shot espresso and a tall cup of green tea. One might be better for you and much larger in volume, but doesn't quick pack the same punch.

    “A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths”

  • In reply to TheSquale
    Plato's picture

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  • In reply to TOB2020
    WhoSteen's picture

    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

  • In reply to Going Concern
    moneymogul's picture

    “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.” - Jobs

  • In reply to Plato
    TheSquale's picture