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Authors address decline in reading

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Chhay Sophal and Sotheary Meysan join a Cross Talk discussion with Khmer Times yesterday. KT/Mom Sophon

Two prominent authors are encouraging the public to get off Facebook and start reading books.

Authors Chhay Sophal and Sotheary Meysan yesterday during a Cross Talk discussion with Khmer Times said they are worried about a decreasing number in Cambodian readers.

“We are concerned about this because people do not read any more and that will cause them to not know what is happening,” Ms Sotheary said. “We see that the number of people reading books and listening to radio broadcast are diminishing following the arrival of social media.”

She said that she is always thinking of ways to encourage more Cambodians, especially youths, to kick their social media habits and switch to books.

Mr Sophal, who is also the owner of a book cafe in Phnom Penh, yesterday said books are a great source of knowledge.

“If we do not read, we will not know anything, and sometimes we only know about something just because someone told us about it – this is what is worrying me about this issue,” he said, adding that someone who reads well, speaks and thinks well. “I want to encourage all people, especially youths, to spend their time with books that they like. Books contain knowledge that we otherwise get from learning in school. Some knowledge – or things – that we learn are not even taught in schools.”

Mr Sophal noted that parents play a crucial role in changing the behaviour of their children by setting a good example.

He said parents should also stock up on books to create a small library for their children.

“This is one way of pushing and encouraging children to read a book,” Mr Sophal said.

Vann Sakada, a 22-year-old Royal University of Cambodia Law and Economics graduate, yesterday said reading books helped him earn his law degree.

Mr Sakada also said that reading helped him with developing his leadership skills.

“I set my goal and think about what books I should read. I admire authors because they write their experiences in books – which in turn helped me to learn from them,” he said. “Parents should encourage their children to develop a reading habit from a young age so that the habit stays with them.”

Mr Sakada noted that what he read he put into practice and the practice has helped him through tough times.

“I read a book that gave me tips on how to get rid of stress, I followed it and found out that it was really effective,” he said. “Since then, I kept reading more and more and I found that each book has its own purpose that we can take advantage of.”

More than 100,000 people last week visited a three-day book fair at the National Library in the capital.

National Library director Khlot Vibolla said there was actually an increase of attendees by about 50,000 when compared to last year’s numbers.

She did not provide exact figures on how many books were sold, but she said that at least one person bought at least one book.

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