An article by the Associated Press published today says some interesting things about the way Americans read. Sadly, not many of the statements are surprising, and in fact many stereotypes are reinforced. Like:
Liberal democrats read more than conservative republicans.
Women read twice as much as men.
People with college degrees read more.
People who go to church read half as much as non-church goers.
Men prefer non-fiction.
Some interesting numbers:
Percentage of people who did not read a book last year: 27
Median number of books read: 4
Median number of books read by people who have read at least one book: 7 (9 for women, 5 for men)
One of the men quoted in the article says that if he wanted a story, he'd go to a movie. Personally, I read for the story most of the time. I'm not a big non-fiction reader, but I've enjoyed watching non-fiction television like nature, science, and history programs on public television. I find this interesting. Why would this be? Does the fact that I have ovaries mean that I am better equipped to endure hundreds of pages of story rather than watching a couple hours of action? And that I can't focus my pretty little head enough to read a book on airplanes? More likely this is a culturally influenced phenomenon along with the idea that girls don't like math and would prefer to write poetry and learn to play the piano.
And what's all this about the level of education and the church-going and the politics? You don't have to be smart to read, unless you can't read at all, of course. There are plenty of easy to read books out there. Maybe those with less education are having to work harder and don't have time to read at all. Although certain people (hi guys!) might talk about how much smarter liberals are, for example, I really don't want that to be the reason why conservatives read less. These numbers depress me. I mean, come on, I'd be happy if some statistic, somewhere, would contradict our assumptions about these things.
Or, maybe I've got it wrong all along. Maybe reading a lot isn't good. Maybe all this work we do to encourage lifelong literacy and book reading is a waste and we should just embrace other forms of entertainment and education. Maybe I'm just a tool for the book industry and its liberal atheistic immoral agenda.