Americans aren't reading!!

[From AP:][1]One in four U.S. adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year - half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who had not read any, the usual number read was seven.It'd be easy to work up a good book snob rant here, but it ain't going to come from me.In an era of supposedly declining literacy, I've got to ask myself: Has there ever been a point in American history where fewer than a quarter of all adults hadn't read a book within the last year?I don't have statistics to back me up, but I suspect the answer is no. The advent of full kindergarten-through-high school education (with accompanying literacy) didn't become the mass societal expectation, as far as I can tell, until sometime around the Depression - during and after which electronic media (radios, then television) became ascendant. So in some ways, I'm guessing that now may well be a golden age of book reading.As for the preferred reading materials - religious works and popular fiction - I'm guessing there might be some additional sneering. But you know what? I'm guessing that's pretty much the way it's always been, too. As for the average of seven books a year: That's a book every six weeks or so. If you're married, or have kids, that's a pretty good pace. [1]:


lilchick 14 years, 10 months ago

Wow. I read at least one book a week. Granted it isn't always very horizon expanding (a lot of Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, etc) but some of it is, I enjoy good biographies and well written (entertaining) history books. But, we also don't have television at our home. No satellite, cable or air channels, so reading is my way of amusing myself in the evenings.

alm77 14 years, 10 months ago

I go through cycles. I'm on my 14th book since summer started, but they are all part of the same mystery series. In the winter, I read about 1 book a month.

I was amazed one day when I was reading the LJWorld online and people were against expanding the library. Not just against the large price tag, but against the library itself. They were saying things like, its never used, no one goes there, etc. It was outrageous.

I like to think of myself as "well read", but in reality I'm merely a dilettante. There are so many books and definitely not enough time.

Oh, and Joel, kudos on acknowledging the married with kids crowd. Counting those books, I've read the same three books every day at nap time for at least 3 weeks.

Shelby 14 years, 10 months ago

I'm on probably my 4th book of the year...I read just a little before bed about 3 nights a week.

In high school, I began reading Dune and lost the book before I even got to the middle of the book. I liked it back then, but couldn't fully comprehend it I don't think....kind of a short attention-span thing. Anyway, picked it up again, 13 years later, this spring and finished it a few weeks ago. It's so good! Now I'm reading Dune Messiah and it's kind of soap-opera-y so far (pg. 50 or 60) but seems pretty good nonetheless.

I know this has been beaten to death on Joel's blog, but I highly recommend The Road by Cormack McCarthy, which I read last December. It's such an honest, non-flashy book. I loved it mostly for this reason; the same reason I love the movies I love.



CafeSiren 14 years, 10 months ago

I read for a living, so I'm not going to count those books. So, so far this year, I'd say I've read -- for pleasure, mind you -- about four books, and re-read about five others.

Of course, the pace picked up markedly when I cancelled my Netflix account last month. Huh. Imagine that.

Deb Townsend 14 years, 10 months ago

I read today--the directions on the bottle of infant tylenol and the bag my son's Huggies came in, oh--and the nutritional information on my oatmeal box. I hope that with more sleep comes the ability to move on to actual paragraphs.

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