Do diet books count?

“A simple question: why do so few characters in fiction ever read books? Let’s assume that these characters do have the ability to read, and to read something more than love letters or legal documents or diaries. Why do their authors so rarely have them reading fiction or philosophy?

“We know that many of the characters have gone to college, even such universities as Harvard and Yale. And yet they never read? Or, if they do, they never talk about their reading with others?

“And here we live, God help us, in the ongoing age of realism. Granted, such writers as Raymond Carver and Frederick Barthelme preferred to make their characters sit in front of TVs. But might they not also pick up the occasional book? And might they not—just once—mention their reading to another character? Wife? Husband? Girlfriend?

“Apparently not. Even professors in fiction do not read, though this could in fact be an accurate reflection of real professors. (Why is it that professors, and especially English professors, read so little? Ah, because they are always so busy! Almost as busy as librarians, who also have no time for reading.)” — Anne Burke, “Thinking in Fiction”

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