Tuesday, April 28, 2015
DO AMERICANS STILL READ FOR PLEASURE? by Cheryl Pierson
I subscribe to a little trivia newsletter called “Wisegeek” that comes a couple of times a week in my inbox. The other day, the topic was, Do Americans Still Read for Pleasure?
Here’s what their data shows:
Americans still read for pleasure, with about 75% of adults claiming to have read at least one book during the previous year, according to a 2013 survey. The number of Americans who have not read a book in the past year is estimated to have tripled since 1978, however. For people who do read for pleasure, the format has changed, as about 40% of American adults surveyed said they had read books electronically. Another 2013 survey found that adults age 18-39 who owned e-readers or tablets had read an average of 21 books in the previous year, compared with 13 for people who did not own such a device.
One of my all-time favorites--it's on my keeper shelf! It may surprise you, since it's not a romance, and it's "alternate history"--but I love this author and this story.
More about reading habits:
• A little more than half of all Americans older than 16 visit a library during a year.
• India is the country where people read the most, at an average of more than 10 hours per week.
• More than 80% of Americans age 50-64 say they read the pleasure, which is the highest rate of any age group.
Do these figures shock you? For me, they were a real eye-opener. I was amazed to find out that there were 25% of our population of adults that had NOT read one book in the past year! In the past 35 years, the number of people who have NOT read a book in the past year has tripled. That breaks my heart! And it’s astonishing to me.
If you've never read this book, let me recommend it with all my heart. It's one of those books that, when you finish it, you won't ever forget it. I have 2 copies of it and I never loan out either of them.
The one good thing—if you can call it that—that this survey shows is that on average, 8 more books per year are being read by adults with some kind of electronic device to read them on. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my Kindle. But…I read a lot of paperback books, in addition to this. I’d like to know about people like me who have both—an e-reader and the paperbacks all over the house.
What's the best book you've read recently? I'm reading OLDEST LIVING CONFEDERATE WIDOW TELLS ALL by Allan Gurganus right now. It's a one-of-a-kind book--the retelling of a life by the woman who lived it. No, it's not a true story, but it's witty, funny, and poignant--the author is wonderful, and the story is so unique it's hard to put down.
Another favorite of mine is The Outsider by Penelope Williamson. It’s an oldie, but a goodie—and I just discovered it last year, thanks to our own Kathleen Rice Adams. It was so good, in fact, that a movie was made from it.
I’m anxious to hear your thoughts about this survey and if any of this surprises you—then let’s talk good reading. What’s your pick?
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I cannot imagine NOT always having a book handy. Prior to kindle, I was a regular at the library. I still stop by and see what's new, check out the book sales etc. I even drop off bookmarks! I took all my kids to reading programs in the summer. I hope parents realize the value in teaching their children reading is priceless.ReplyDelete
"Take meee with youuuuu!" Makes me tear up every time, thinking about that little boy. I still love St. Agnes's Stand and vividly recall that story.ReplyDelete
And The Outsider? I read that long ago 10 years, maybe, and not only fell in love with this book, I loved Penelope Williamson. I think another good one is Into the Wilderness. I should look that up.
I was a reader as a child, but fell away from it as a teenager. Then through my baby days and college, then teaching, I rarely read a novel.
But when I took early retirement at age 50, I could not read enough. Our public library was small, but I sure made use of it, sometimes checking our 4-5 books at a time. It was a learning period for me, choosing this genre, discarding this genre, until I found books I love.
Right now I am reading Zane Grey's The Shepherd of Guadaloupe, published in 1928. It's an example of Zane Grey writing stories set in his own time--this one, after WWI. This confused readers, of course.
Great topic, Cheryl, and now I'll have to read those you mentioned again.
My husband has never read a book. He had a bad start in school. He spoke Dutch and had to learn English as he was learning everything else. He has trouble understanding what he reads but if you read it to him he grasps what it means. So I understand that there are people who don't read a book a year. Some people just have other things they prefer to do than read. Especially when reading is more like work than pleasure.ReplyDelete
As Cindy said, I can't imagine not having a book handy at all times. The Facebook joke about a woman's purse having to be large enough for a book (or my Kindle) is certainly a reality at our house. Our daughters are avid readers also. I also re-read old favorites as do my husband and daughters. We read on both Kindles and paper. My husband and daughters have dyslexia, but that doesn't slow their reading.ReplyDelete
Until I was 16 we didn't have a TV. My dad wouldn't allow one in the house. So, of course, reading was a big entertainment for my sister and me. I was a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott and Robert Louis Stevenson. By the time I was 10, I became a Sherlock Holmes addict. I also read Sir Arthur Cannon Dole's other work, The White Company and, my favorite, The Lost World. For a long time I was all in to Shakespeare.ReplyDelete
I loved adventure and science fiction stories. Romance stories weren't my cup of tea until I was in my early 30's and a co-worker introduced me to books by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Naturally, I became addicted to romance novels then.
So, in answer to your question, Cheryl, YES! I read for pleasure. I even read books about writing and home repair with great enthusiasm. Except for my nephew, Matthew, who is dyslexic, all of my family enjoy reading. Remarkably, even my great-niece who is 13 loves to read. I am amazed by that because I see so many distractions like TV and I-Pads for kids now, but I guess it's just in her genes to love reading. Kindle has really brought reading for pleasure into the 21st century.
This was quite an interesting blog for conversation, Cheryl. As you can see, I've practically written a novel in reply. LOL I wish you continued success in all you do.
To correct my previous comment, Into the Wilderness is by Sara Donati, another wonderful author who writes those long epic style books. I was searching out her books at the same time I was looking for more Penelope Williamson books. (another of her good ones is The Passions of Emma.)
Our grandsons, as I have said before, are growing up without a tv in the house with cable or anything. Their tv is used only for videos, DVDs, when they were little. The reason was to teach them to entertain themselves, and that was to "go read a book" or "make something with Legos."
All three are avid readers.
When they were last here, the youngest, then nine, spotted all my books on a shelf in his granddad's "office"--the bedroom where the boys sleep when visiting. He as surprised I wrote actual books--trust me, no other member of my family, except my husband, has shown interest. But he asked if he could ream them. I said, no, "These are for adults." He said, "Oh, then I can read them when I become an adult.
But at 11 he could read Wish for the Moon. They're coming in May and I can tell him that one he can read. (I have the print of the older version.)
I like this topic. Thanks, Cheryl
I only read Kindle books. Love me some Kindle! They're a blessing for those who's eyes won't cooperate.ReplyDelete
One thing the survey might not have mentioned is that romance readers tend to read across multiple genres, whereas mystery readers tend to stay in one genre. So while romance is only 50% of the market, romance readers buy 80% of all fiction. All. And that's nothing to ignore.
Cindy, I soooo agree! I read to my kids from the time they were infants until they were embarrassed that someone might find out we still read together at night--but it was so much more than just reading--it was good times and laughter and explaining and talking. A good book can do so much to bring a family together. I used to love the library when I was a little girl. Couldn't wait until Saturdays when I'd get to go and spend time there while Mom got her hair done. LOL Thanks for coming by!ReplyDelete
Celia, I have had so many times in my life like that--where you WANT to read, but don't have a spare minute--especially when the children are younger and there's not one free minute ever. But I tell you, there was not one time I wasn't WISHING for a book to read, and the time to read it in. LOL I think the love of reading and books should be instilled from a very young age. Seems like I did a lot more reading for pleasure as a young girl than my sisters did, because they grew up during the days when schools put a push on schoolwork so we could keep ahead of the Russians. So they didn't have time, with all the activities they were in as well as the homework aspect. By the time I came along, I was "in tow" as my mom took them to all their activities, and she'd say, "Take a book with you." It was my escape. Oh, yes, that book, St. Agnes' Stand...I tear up to at that ending. The mark of an excellent author, to be able to touch something so deep in each of us that we get emotional just thinking about it. Thanks so much for coming by Celia!ReplyDelete
That would be very hard, Paty. I might not love reading, either, if I had to do it in another language.ReplyDelete
Caroline, I am a slow reader. It takes me a long time to finish something I'm reading for pleasure, because I don't have much time to do it "for fun". I spend so much time editing for Prairie Rose Pub. that I am finding I need to rest my eyes. LOL But I never go anywhere without a book, and though I love my Kindle, I still prefer print books. Thanks for stopping by!ReplyDelete
Sarah, you sound like my sister! She loves to read books about psychology, nutrition, etc. and what I would call a lot of "self-help" books--but the big difference is, she doesn't read a lot of fiction. I've bought countless books on different subjects that aren't fiction that I have a dickens of the time getting through. You are a rare person indeed--in that you enjoy everything so much in equal parts.ReplyDelete
Thank you for stopping by!
Celia, I think it's so neat that your grandson wants to read your books! That is just awesome! And yes, Wish for the Moon will be perfect for him. He's probably more mature than most 11-year-olds and will understand it just fine. I know you will be bursting with pride!ReplyDelete
WOW, Jacquie! I didn't know that! Those numbers are amazing, aren't they? Thanks for sharing that! I'm so glad you enjoy your Kindle so much--we live in such a great day and age where we have so many things that make our lives simpler -- things that enable us to do the things we never could have done even had we lived a few years earlier. Thanks so much for coming by!ReplyDelete
I love to read and the historical romance is my genre to sit down and enjoy. Almost a year ago we packed up, left California and moved to northern Wisconsin. My loyal husband has read my books on the kindle but one day he was given a book by a friend here and it opened the floodgate. He reads to novels a week. I am stunned but so pleased he has found reading to be so enjoyable.ReplyDelete
I wish I had more time to read. By the time I get through writing my eyes are tired and I don't get too many pages read. I enjoy both the kindle and paperbacks.
This is a great post. I am not surprised at the lack of reading done by so many. It's too bad because it is a great way to spend your time and expand your interests.
I read every night for an hour or two before going to sleep. It's the best way I know to calm the noise in my brain. Besides, it's fun to escape to another time or place.ReplyDelete
Jacquie's comment hit home for me. I write romance, both western and romantic suspense, but I love reading other genres such as sci-fi or mystery/suspense. Right now I'm reading a hard core sci-fi series by T. Jackson King.
Paisley, I know just what you mean about TIRED EYES! LOL I feel the same way. That's wonderful about your husband! Mine has always loved to read and read everything he could get his hands on--except my stuff. LOL I think he just thinks "men don't read romance". But he started out when I first knew him reading a LOT of science fiction. We had a huge collection of Sci-fi books. Then, he lost interest in those and went to detective novels--loved John D. McDonald. Now he reads a lot of James Patterson, etc. We both went through a time of reading Stephen King--I can't read him anymore because he's gotten so gory.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by--I love to hear what everyone else is doing/reading!
Lyn, I read in other genres, too. But anymore, I have no time to read for pleasure, since I do so much editing. I've sure discovered some great authors, whose work I love, when they've submitted it to me at Prairie Rose Publications and the imprints--that has been a real perk I didn't think of before. LOLReplyDelete