Greeks and books

It’s commonly held in Greece that Greeks don’t read books. Anecdotally, it seems true.

I live in Thessaloniki, the second most populous city in Greece, and work remotely, spending about half my working hours in cafés. I choose quiet, smoke-free, tastefully-lit cafés with unobtrusive music, comfortable seating and good coffee and tea options. In other words, the sort of places you’d expect to see a lot of readers. But there are none.

I often see students with books. They can be identified by the piles of notes and books, and the fact that they’re mostly checking Facebook or talking on their phone. But they’re not reading, they’re studying, if that.

I almost never see regular adults just reading a book for pleasure. I saw one today and was so surprised I tried to recall the last time I had seen someone reading who wasn’t an obvious tourist – easily recognizeable by their pasty, sunburnt skin and foreign-language books. I racked my brain, but the last person I can recall seeing reading for pleasure was in late July – three months ago.

I realize that this isn’t a particularly scientific observation. You can make of it what you will.

It breaks my heart.

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