They do read books after all...

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"Young people don't read much these days," is a phrase one hears quite often. "They only watch television, surf the internet and refuse to read anything longer than an SMS message." One would easily believe that, especially if one judges the younger generation by those people who get the most media coverage, such as young celebrities or the protagonists of TV reality shows. Also, frankly, how many books have I myself read from cover to cover in the last year?

Those are the reasons why I was so surprised - and ashamed - recently when by chance I tuned in to an evening broadcast of a music radio station. Every Monday from 10 to 11 pm the presenter kicks off a relay by reading an excerpt from a book. Listeners call in and guess the title and author and in return they read an excerpt from a book of their own choice.

When I first tuned in to that programme, they were reading poetry. I was embarrassed to recognise only one of the poems read during the hour-long show. All the listeners were in their twenties and it was obvious that they cared about what they read on the air.

For almost three months now I have been tuning in to that programme every Monday before bedtime and enjoying every minute of it. It rarely happens that none of the listeners is able to guess the answer and the presenter has to reveal the name of the author himself. Each time I listen, I learn about new authors, Czech and foreign, and my curiosity is tickled. But above all, the quiet and homey atmosphere of the programme gives me a reassurance that the world is not such a rotten place after all despite all the gloomy forecasts that the young generation today is close to illiterate.

Bookworms seem to get little air time these days. But thanks to that radio show I recently found by accident, they do get some chance to be heard and feel that they are not alone.