Reading Isn’t Just for the Rich

I love books. Reading is my favorite pastime. I love reading about reading and about words.

This love means I also enjoy blogs and articles about reading and books. There are so many great resources to inspire reading now.

But something has begun to bother me about blogs and websites dedicated to reading:

Reading (and personal library building) has begun to look like the pursuit of the few. The privileged.

A love of reading seems like it belongs to the (at-least) comfortably middle-class.

I want to say this next thing as gently as I can. (Because I enjoy these blogs and the reading lists, too.)

But reading was never meant to belong only to the well-to do.

reading isn't just for the richYou do not need to own multiple pairs of shoes that cost over a hundred dollars a pair.

Meal services, or a house cleaner, or a nanny for your children, or subscription boxes of clothes, coffee, or kitchen gadgets are not a requirement of reading life.

Where the “Reading is Exclusive” concept may have flourished:

Some of these blogs about books and reading that started small now have courses to sell. They have their own books (or ebooks) to peddle. They have affiliates (I do too) to help pay blog expenses and therefore they have services or products to promote.

And I’m not against that, per se. People who love reading and books can and do make a living with that love.

And that is wonderful.

But I think a misperception has begun to sneak in: you have to be wealthy to enjoy reading.

“To be a book person” you have to shell out a lot more money than the cost of a hardcover.

Because along with the books have come recommendations for pricy home goods. Along with access to authors is a monthly fee. The online book discussion ends up costing a bit more than a real life book group would.

The upper-middle class lifestyle is promoted, because that is who can afford these things.

You don’t have to buy anything else to be a Reader

You don’t have to wear expensive shoes or clothes. (I say as a person who wishes she could wear Converse every day, for any occasion.)

A beautiful collection of colorful dishes, like Fiesta, is not mandatory. (And I say this even though I collect and deeply love Fiesta myself! I’ve already told you that I drink my morning coffee in this mug every morning. And no, I didn’t pay that much for my mugs.)

Gourmet coffee needn’t be consumed along with your books. (All images on Instagram to the contrary.) You don’t have to frequent Starbucks or know what a French Press is.

Floor to ceiling built in shelves may be gorgeous, but they’re not required.

Building a Personal Library Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Dover has inexpensive paperbacks. Amazon regularly discounts books for Kindle. (And you don’t have to have a Kindle to benefit.)

Used book stores have wide and varied selections.

Libraries are fantastic resources for everyone. And not just for books. Definitely not just for the well to do. (Although you might want to save a few dollars to pay the inevitable fines.)

Your local Craigslist probably has someone offering a box of books for free or a few dollars.

A truth about books: the real riches are INSIDE the covers.

riches inside the coversReading is for Everyone

There are books by authors from almost any perspective. Authors don’t come from one particular class. You can read books by and about people who have more than you.

And you can read books by and about people who have less than you.

You can read a book by an author from a place you will never visit.

A book will take you into a perspective you couldn’t have imagined before. You can live a thousand lives.

There are books about people from long ago. And there are books imagining what life will be long from now.

There is stored up wisdom. And there are ideas and practices that would best be left on the shelf.

I have lots of advice for raising readers, but here’s a secret: you don’t have to own thousands of books to do it.

If you had a single copy of Mother Goose and some paperback edition for fairy tales and you read a few of those every day to your child, they’d be better off than the kid who owns hundreds of gorgeous books but never looked at them.

Don’t let aspirational living, or Pinterest or Instagram fueled images, discourage you from reading or loving books.
reading is for everyone
So here’s my exhortation for 2018:

Read. Just read.

Read to complete a challenge. Gather your kids around and read picture books aloud. Visit your library. Add a bookshelf and fill it with favorites. Don’t worry if they’re hardbacks or matching sets or first editions.


It’s good for your heart. And it’s good for your brain. It’s good for you.

And it doesn’t take a fortune to appreciate that.

Affiliates that help me keep this blog up (extra special thanks to everyone who uses these links or promotes Living Unabridged posts in any way):
Dover Books

reading isn't just for the rich pin

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  1. Thank you. This has needed to be said for a long time.