America doesn’t read

A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll, released today, found that 27 percent of Americans didn’t read a single book in the past year.

One in four 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 typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.

I start each new year with the idea and firm resolve that I’ll record all the books I read that year. This usually lasts until about February or March. I read too many books for it to be practical to write them all down, I guess. Last calendar year, I didn’t read many books at all. My job was very time consuming and exceedingly stressful. I couldn’t relax when I picked up a book (even though the rest of my life reading fiction has been a great escape) last year. Then again, I couldn’t relax much at all last year. This year, I had completed five books before January ended. This is much more typical of my life.

The report states that 20 percent of people read romance novels. This is less than the number of people who reported reading mysteries, popular fiction, histories and biographies. However, that 20 percent is also higher than the percent of respondents who said they read classical literature or poetry. That, in each case, was less than 5 percent.

Read the full CNN article here. It has stats on what books people read, and further breaks down who’s reading (and who’s not).

What does this mean for writers? On a larger scope, what does it mean for society?

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.


6 responses to “America doesn’t read

  1. Some other books I suggest for a fun read:

    Any book by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Le Morte D’ Artur by Sir Thomas Mallory
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (not to be confused with Dumbass)
    Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
    The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
    The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

    This is a very disturbing trend. If this continues, the predictions in Fahrenheit 451 may very well come true.

  2. threebooksandamovie

    More women than men read every major category of books except for history and biography. Industry experts said that confirms their observation that men tend to prefer nonfiction.

    I used to be so typically woman. These days I like nonfiction just as much as I like fiction, though, if not slightly more. Reading fiction just feels like a waste of time, especially since every other fiction I pick up isn’t worth the effort.

  3. Do those of us who read obsessively make up for those who don’t?

    I feel just WRONG if I don’t have at least one book going at all times. I DON’T read romance novels (at least, not the typical Harlequin, heaving-bosom, throbbing-member books; some of the novels I choose occasionally DO have a hefty dose of love story in them).

    I co-host an internet book club and we’re making invitations to anyone who might like to join us. We just finished Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD and are likely going to be moving to a new book soon. You can find us at

  4. I wish I had time to read more, but a demanding job isn’t conducive to much sofa-time! I do read a great deal however and feel weird if I don’t have anything on the go. The purist form of escapism, surely, I can’t understand why people wouldn’t want to read!

  5. Pingback: 200 books: Fighting the trend « Word Lily

  6. Pingback: Study: Reading on the rise « Word Lily

What do you think? I'd love to know.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s