Daily Phuket #28: 25 March 2021 – This Is A Book

Thai people don’t read. Well, that isn’t quite true as some do. Some even claim to enjoy the pasttime. However, there have been plenty of statistics over the years claiming ridiculously low levels of reading for pleasure amongst Thai people with UNESCO stating that Thais read just eight LINES per year, compared to the 24 BOOKS per year average for northern Europeans. Whenever I see one of my students with a non-school book, it is almost always a comic book with more drawings than words. The nation became a laughing stock when Bangkok was declared a World Book Capitol in 2013. There are plenty of articles and op-ed pieces examining the sorry state of reading in the Land of Smiles.

The few bookshops that remain in Phuket are filled more with office and school supplies than with books. If you need clay or whiteboard markers, go to a book store. I have never been to a public library in Phuket but I have heard that you need to pay a high membership fee and there are few foreign-language books inside. As far as I know, there is only one used bookshop left in Phuket Town — South Wind Books on Phang Nga Road — but it keeps reducing in size and was always too hot, dusty and infested with biting insects to spend more than a few minutes within.

All of this is rather distressing to a voracious reader such as myself so the majority of my library now consists of ebooks plus a precious few volumes bought from overseas with shipping costs often exceeding the price of the book.

It amuses me, considering the national reluctance to reading, that there are a few coffee shops and bars near my home seemingly deboted to the activity. On Thalang Road, we have an establishment name Bookhemia that almost has the concept right as it seems geared more towards tourists and expats than locals. You can browse the books for something to read while you enjoy a beverage and snack.

Today’s photo is of neighboring bars on Rasada Road — The Library and the amusingly named This Is A Book. Neither are places one goes to read although This Is A Book is somewhat more sedate than its neighbor. They cater to the twenty-something crowd that the surveys show read very few books yet enjoy their lights pulsing, their music at a beat-infused roar and their cocktails strong and never-ending. The big question is how to encourage them to pick up a book with so many other temptations competing. I have no easy answers other than rezding is fun and that you gain either escape or knowledge (often, both).

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