Monday, November 19, 2007


I was listening to NPR on the way home and they were discussing some studies about reading. I guess I knew that fewer and fewer people read, but I don't think I ever thought about just how few.

Some notes from the NPR story Reading Study Shows Remarkable Decline in U.S. that I found interesting:
  • A poll released last month by The Associated Press and Ipsos, a market-research firm, found that the typical American read only four books last year, and one in four adults read no books at all.
  • A National Endowment for the Arts report found that only 57 percent of Americans had read a book in 2002 a four percentage-point drop in a decade.
  • Among avid readers surveyed by the AP, the typical woman read nine books in a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography.
  • Men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market, according to surveys conducted in the U.S., Canada and Britain.
I can't imagine reading that little. We don't have TV (we have televisions, but no cable or satellite - only bunny ears). If we are going to sit and watch something - we watch a movie. I get my news online or on the radio, and I don't miss sitcoms or other TV shows at all. I would rather read a short story by Edgar Allen Poe than watch a TV show any day. Even in years that I don't read a lot of books, I'm always reading magazines or newspapers. Sometimes just Wikipedia.

I love to read. When I was young my mom signed me up for a children's book club. Each month or so they would send me an age-appropriate book and I would read it immediately, often finishing in just a day or two. They weren't very big or intimidating books, but I consumed them.

I was soon in need of more books, and I remember that my school had a reading program. Each time you read a book you would go tell your teacher what the book was about and she would put a star up for you on the reading board. I was always one of the children with the most stars. Over the summer, I often read more books than most of my classmates.

My family would go camping when I was younger and sit around the campfire reading Michael Crichton and Isaac Asimov stories aloud to one another. I find that I still love to read aloud and hear others read aloud - probably the reason I love radio programs like This American Life. Right now I'm reading Alan Greenspan's book aloud when Bobby and I are in the car.

I read less books as I get older, but I wouldn't say I read less. Magazines, newspapers, Internet articles... the list goes on and on. Fortune Magazine has become my lunchtime reading material.

I love fiction and am often drawn to series, especially sci-fi and fantasy. I'm quite picky about the books I like, but when I find authors I like I often read a number of their books. I find that I like stories with a lot of dialog and action, but I don't like books with a lot of description of scenery (I'm not a fan of Hemingway or Steinbeck, and though I loved the movies, I could not read through the Lord of the Rings series).

When I was little it was the Babysitters Club and the Beverly Cleary novels, then when I was a little older I got into some Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn (which I was surprised to find on Bobby's bookshelf when we started dating), and during high school and college it was Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witch series. I also loved The Three Musketeers and The Counte of Monte Cristo, The Mists of Avalon, The Awakening, Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Chocolat, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Jennifer Roberson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Grisham and Walter Mosely novels. I read the Harry Potter books as I see the movies and I recently discovered Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series and read the first three books in about a week and a half. And that's just the fiction.

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