The Decline of Reading in America?

Earlier this month, I explored some stats about reading in America as a jumping-off point to emphasize my desire to be more aware of how different the world can be for different people.

What I didn’t talk about was how much those stats scared me. I understand that as an avid life-long reader my perspective is biased, but I believe that reading is one of the most important things a person can do to grow, to realize their best self, and to keep their mind healthy.

Last week, the Pew Research Center released a report (PDF) which showed that nearly a quarter of American adults haven’t read a single book in the past year in any format. That’s nearly triple the percentage from 1978. For me, this is terrifying.

So I was quite happy when I came across this article through Stephen Abram’s blog:

The Decline of the American Book Lover—And why the downturn might be over. by Jordan Weissmann (posted on The Atlantic on January 21, 2014)

I hope the author is correct in this reading of the data. I hope the state of reading in America isn’t so dire.

And let’s look at this number from the other way ‘round—just over three quarters of adult Americans still read, and most pretty regularly. That’s not nothing.

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