People are reading, but they’re not participating in the Reading culture
In the UAE, 2016 was the Year of Reading. From what I saw, that did indeed encourage many people to start reading. People would take the time out of their day to read, for an hour or two — maybe more, maybe less. People were reading different books. Some people read whatever fit their interests, some read what others recommended to them, some just simply picked up any book and read. But despite the increase in readership, that did not create a reading culture. It did not create a culture of book discussions, book circles, or book clubs. Most people were reading on their own, without a passion for reading. They read, but they did not contemplate the ideas presented in the books they were reading.
The government started the initiative of encouraging people to read, but people did not build up on that initiative by creating, or participating in book events, book clubs, or book discussions. Popular events that have been held such as the Sharjah International Book Fair, and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature had the same crowd. People are not being encouraged to create or go to Book events. They would rather get a book, sit at home, and read it.
One way to doing that is by bringing these events closer to people. In Sharjah, the Sharjah International Book Fair could extend from just being held at the Expo, to being held at different venues with different themes, such as Sharjah’s Heritage Area. We can make it easier for people to have their own book events in the Community Centre near them. An Instagram used books store based in Ajman is holding its second used books fair in the LuLu Centre, after the first one proved to be a huge success.
Another idea is implementing something similar to the Youth Circles, “Reading Youth Circles” where the Youth would regularly meet to discuss books that they’ve read.
If such ideas are taken up, our reading culture will expand from being small in numbers to large numbers of smart, critical thinking, forward thinking readers.