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Jordanians read 21 books per year — index

Non-readers claim ‘lack of time’ reason behind disengagement in reading

By Maram Kayed - Sep 11,2018 - Last updated at Sep 11,2018

The Arab Reading Index stated that the average number of hours a Jordanian spends reading is 50 hours, deemed by some 'exaggerated' (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — A recent report by the UNDP showed that on average, Jordanians read 21 books annually: Eight of which are curricular or work-related, and 13 of which are for leisure and extra-curricular activities.

The Arab Reading Index stated that the average number of hours a Jordanian spends reading is 50 hours, although some citizens said they found this number “exaggerated”.

September is known internationally as “Read a Book Month” and The Jordan Times sought out Jordanians to uncover their reasons for interest or disengagement in reading.

Lack of time was the most common excuse for non-readers. Although, avid readers agreed that finding time is challenging, their love for reading drove them to find pragmatic solutions.

Ward Wasfi, mother of three, told The Jordan Times, “I don’t have time for reading. Between work, maintaining a house and raising children, there just isn’t enough hours in the day to do anything else.”

Samar Mahmoud, also a mother of three, managed to find a way around this, “I love reading. Even with three children, I still set aside half-an-hour to an hour for it after the kids fall asleep. Reading relaxes me and gets me through the day, however hectic it was with the kids.”

Other than time, non-readers said that reading “isn’t part of Jordanian culture” as a second reason for their disinterest.

“Growing up, no one really told us that we had to read, neither at school nor at home. So we did not grow up as passionate about reading as kids in cultures where reading is thought of as an integral part of life,” Fareed Ramahi, a bank teller, told The Jordan Times.

“I used to live in Irbid while still studying at the University of Jordan, so it was almost a two-hour ride. I decided after a while that I should make use of these two hours, so I brought a book to read on the bus. I was ridiculed by my friends and called ‘pretentious’, so I stopped,” said his colleague, Zaid Shorbaji.

However, some people recalled that their teachers would encourage them to do further reading, especially when it came to literary majors. “It’s a matter of nurturing: If you were brought up in a home that admired art or not,” said Lora Nabulsi, a retired teacher.

In the past few years, social media has provided outlets for people to promote reading in Jordanian culture further. Book review pages by Jordanians are numerous on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These pages help people discover new books, as well as discuss ones they have already read.

“Our aim is to build a community that is able to critically think about things, and that can only be achieved through reading,” wrote one of those pages on their Instagram biography.

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Comments

I find this a huge exaggeration. I happened to employ a lot of people in industry, trade and services and I asked a large number of them if they read anything. The vast majority claimed they don’t have the time although they are extremely active on social media and watch TV by the hours. For university grads once the get their degree the never open a book again and I mean “never”.

This will be the first time I ever comment on public content. I only wish Jorfanians read 13 books a year. I bet UNDP made that up...

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