I was preparing some training material on how to think creatively when I realised that from my experience in engaging with people here, I could surmise that Malaysians read very little.
I tried to look for some statistics, and I was right.
Although Malaysia has among the highest literacy rate in South East Asia, out of 85% of Malaysians who read regularly, 77% of them prefer newspapers, 3% read magazines, 3% read books and 1.6% read comics.1
First, let me qualify myself. When I say read, I mean books. I suppose there are those who argue that reading articles, newspaper, magazines still count as reading. Maybe, but it cannot be compared to reading books, where your mind works in articulating the thoughts of a non-fiction author or imagining in the mind of a fiction author. It is different. Online articles, newspaper and magazines more or less gives you the information, the data. They are important and useful, but they cannot be compared to reading a book.
So, I do not know the year of the report, but if we were to assume the same three percent now, at the current population of about 30 million, only 180,000 Malaysian read books!
I also found this chart on World Culture Score for Reading that is quite interesting.2
People in India read the most, at 10.7 hours a week, followed by Thailand 9.4 hours a week and China 8 hours a week. Amazingly, these top 3 are from Asia. There is no data in the chart for Malaysia. Click here for the other percentages. (Note: I do not have access to the full report, and as such I do not know what reading does this refer to.)
The Star just did an online survey on the reading habits of Malaysians.3 They have not presented the results yet, and I wonder if there would be much of a change to it.
The pertinent question then is this: what are we losing out from this lack of reading?
I think a whole lot. What do you think?
Go grab a book and read it. You will be very much enriched. I promise.
And by the way, I found this article absolutely brilliant and downright witty. Take a look: When You Start To Read More, These 10 Things Will Happen.
1 Malaysian Bar
2 Charts Bin
3 The Star