Americans Are Reading Less


0595C70A-75E1-4F76-A2F2-5D1643404AB3This article in the New Yorker came through my news feed this morning. Apparently according to the U.S. Department of Labor, fewer than 20% of Americans read. That number is surprisingly low, in my opinion. So can we say 1 in 5 people is a reader? I suppose I’m disqualified from that type of comparison considering I work in a library and am surrounded by readers, but let’s consider my family.

I have 6 living siblings ranging in age from 72 to 54. Out of those 7, four of us are readers (me, Betsy, Mary & Margaret). So, 4 out of 7 is much higher than 20%. This is obviously not a scientific examination of data, but does make me question the results shared in the article.

Another piece of interesting information shared by the author is that, while fewer Americans are reading, the ones who do read are reading slightly more.

What would be interesting is a follow up to this article that looks at *what* people read. I recently conducted some job interviews, and one of the questions asked was “What are you reading?” More than one person shared that they don’t read books much, but they are voracious readers of news and online content. To me, that qualifies as reading. I have to wonder how the Department of Labor phrased their question(s) about reading? Did they ask if people had read a book, or if they read for pleasure? If it was the former, I can understand the 20% (maybe); if it was the latter, I’m calling BS on these results.

What do you say, readers?


One comment on “Americans Are Reading Less

  1. Kate says:

    Yeah, wouldn’t reading his article in the New Yorker count as reading?! Reading articles online definitely counts! We, as librarians, know that reading a book and listening to a book are both reading a book. I’d propose that some podcasts that tell a story are like reading as well!