Most Americans Don't Read Books

In the same internet search, I happened upon the UK's Booktrust (brilliant brilliant) site and the NYT's article about lower reading scores' link to a "decline in time spent pleasure reading." Not that I'm surprised; it's obvious, and I knew it. However, the contrast is alarming between the way the US and the UK handle their book cultures. The US has little book culture, and the UK from what I've been able to gather is brimming.

Dana Gioia, in the NYT article, said, “we live in a society where the media does not recognize, celebrate or discuss reading, literature and authors.”

Only 1 in 4 adults will read a book this year. What is to be done?


  1. It's scary and its true. Having worked in the business world for the last four years, I know for a fact that I am the most literate person in my offices. I have collegues who would rather sit on the train for an hour listening to music or staring at the bum across from them, than pick up a book and read. These people aren't stupid either. And I think thats what gets me the most. They are all college educated (and good colleges too!) professionals, who just don't find pleasure in reading.
    I recently began taking public transportation again, and the SINGLE pleasure that I gleen from my time on a cramped stinky train, is my time reading.
    It's a sad society that we live in. I don't expect people to read The Sound and the Fury on the El, but something, anything! There is amazing literature out there (I'm reading The Book Theif at the moment, I HIGHLY recommend it), people shouldn't be wasting their time on Us Weekly. But sadly, this is what our society has been reduced to. To me, there is nothing better than a rainy day, a comfy sweatshirt and a good appears that I'm in the drastic minority...

  2. This morning the news said employers have found their employees lacking in reading and writing skills. Universities have reported that a declining number of bachelor degree candidates achieve the level of proficiency in standard written English. I attribute all these downward trends to declining readership. It's scary when I think how people might altogether lose their ability to verbally communicate with one another.

  3. It's a scary, scary thing. I agree with both of you, and I think that Goia is right: this society does not value books.

  4. Only 1 in 4?!? What the heck are the other three doing? And that one person who will read a book this year - are they only going to read one? Seems bizarre to me.


  5. It all starts at home with parents who read and make it a priority for themselves and their children. Every home should have books, lots and lots of books. It starts with sitting your child on your lap when they are six months old and reading to them: ABC books, soft books they can play with and maybe chew on(!), Dr. Suess. Yes, they are little, but they will love sitting with you and hearing all those words pouring over them. Every single day. Take your kids to the library, especially during the summer months, and let then see you reading for pleasure, every day. Reading is the foundation of education and essential to a mentally, emotionally and spiritually rich life. Where would we be without great books?

  6. I think that comment above is a little screwed up - the study being alluded to stated that one in four Americans will NOT read a book this year at all (but the other 3 will). Not quite as bad.

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