Friday, March 26, 2010

What a difference a few books can make

I remember reading a disturbing article in 2004. The article claimed that fewer than half of all American adults were reading each year. The youngest group of adults, aged 18-24, had the steepest decline at 55%. I was horrified. I couldn't understand how so many people were missing out on the joy of reading. It made me very sad, especially for the youngest generations, that were trading video game controllers for novels. I wondered how things would ever turn around with new technological goodies being released every day.

Then Harry Potter (yes, I know it came out before 2004, but not everybody caught on) came along, followed shortly thereafter by Twilight. Reading became popular again. Families started reading the same books together. It might not have been The Great Gatsby but people were turning off their televisions and computers and curling up with huge tomes. I wondered if the popularity of these two popular books would be enough to edge those reading numbers back up.

I was delighted to read in 2009 that for the first time in over twenty-five years, adults were reading more. In fact, for the first time since 1982, when the survey began, the overall rate at which adults were reading rose 7%!!! And the biggest increase was in the youngest adults (18-24)!
The survey doesn't site Twilight or Harry Potter for being single handedly responsible for the increases, but we all know that the popularity of these novels brought teens and adults alike back to browse the bookshelves while they wait for the newest installment.

While at jury duty last week, I performed my own little completely non-scientific survey. I began looking around the room at the sixty-plus potential jurors to find that almost every other person was reading a novel. You had your occasional knitter, doodler, or Sudoku player but most of us were enjoying a book. BTW, my book was The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting and it was amazing!

Do you feel that more people have started reading again?

ps- I don't want to steal anyone's thunder but make sure to check in on Monday for some exciting news!



TinaFerraro said...

Steph, I do reading polls in public "wait" areas all the time like car washes and doctor's waiting rooms, seeing how people are wiling away their time. In fact, on one long vacation, my daughter and I did a running poll on every female we saw reading--whether the book was romance or not. The results? Romance narrowly won.

And yeah, about that exciting news on Monday. Hmmm...since I'm that blogger, I'm going to have to have a really exciting weekend, huh, so I have something to report?!?

stephhale said...

Funny, Tina! If you have any more excitement, you'll probably bust! ;)

TinaFerraro said...

I'm still up for an accidental around-town run-in with Mark Wahlberg. :)

Monique said...

I have been reading alot more and although i do not like the series anu more i do hold Twilight personally responsable, i read daily now where before had it was luck if i read once a year. xx

MsFairyFreak said...

I've noticed a good amount of freshmen at my school reading. But it's mainly freshman girls.
I love reading, but I feel like I've been trapped (in a good way) into reading more because of all of the sequels and series out there.