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I read a Associated Press-Ipsos poll revealing that 1 in 4 adults read no books last year.

Yes, that’s 25% of the adults out there are reading zero books. This is sad.


And what about the adults who are reading more than zero books a year. How many are they reading in all? One? Five?

Actually, the same poll reveals the average adult reads only four books per year. Half of those people read less than four.

The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books and Why 3 in 4 People Are Being Shut Out of Success » Achieve IT! – Goal Setting Blog

Another beautiful moment of contrast. I came across this article while I am in the midst of what might rightly be described as a book binge. In the last 15 days I’ve read 4 books.

Well to be more specific, I’ve finished 4 books. I started and abandoned two more as well for failing to grip me sufficiently to keep me spending  time with them. If a story fails to grab you within the first 50 pages, you’d best be served by leaving it behind and starting a new one.

If I’m not careful Ian McEwen’s grim novel Saturday is in danger of joining that short list of the ditched.  It has its moments, its brief flashes of genius and insight inside where the story telling skill comes to the fore, but they have been too few and far between. There’s a curious hollow nature to the books characters that make them difficult to form any sort of attachment towards. I’ve decided to give it a few more chapters and see where it goes.

But I digress. Back to the shockingly low numbers.

Now admittedly I’m a total bibliophile and being a student does give me more spare time than the majority of adults enjoy from their formal and family commitments. It lets me devour a lot more pages than most people are given the luxury of reading, even though that may want to.

But, and you did sense there was a but coming didn’t you, I can’t believe that the median number of books per year is four. Four books is a piddling 1200 page on average. Four is a pathetic number.

And take into account that there must be a huge distortion caused by the people who really get through books. There are the really dedicated bibliophiles who get through 4 books a week every week for years. People who juggle six books on their nightstands and wonder whether they need to go to the library next week to borrow new books.

I know there are people like that out there because there have been years where I was one of them. Books have been hugely influential in my formation as a person. The right books. The wrong books. The books I was given to read. The books I should never have read as a kid. The books I’m reading now that I should have read years ago.

It’s…difficult…for me to accept that there are people who are living their entire lives without finding their horizons stretched and their perceptions challenged by the vivid power of the written word, presented in its proper place surrounded in its own element, in its proper form : the book.

A bibliophile of uncertain sanctity, for the moment, I may be, but its reassuring to know that there’s a lot further I could have fallen.



    • A friend
    • Posted December 23, 2007 at 9:28 am
    • Permalink

    I am one of adults that only read a handful of books last year and this year!. Not everyone likes reading. It is wonderful that you appreciate books and its contents, however, other people may have other passions and the would feel the same way towards people who did not share their view. Everyone is different and i guess on this planet there are quite a view people who don’t like to read. Since you do, maybe, you can count yourself to be lucky.

  1. I think TV and movies are drawing people away from books. Video is a lazy way of taking in a story and most of us are lazy. Websites like YouTube have increased the number of video clips we can access by a million fold, drawing even more people away from reading.

    I am probably one of those who read about 4 books last year (not including textbooks). While I am not as much a book fanatic as you are, I do enjoy the reading experience and believes the video format can never replace the paper format. I just need more time (and self-discipline) to sit down and finish those darn books!

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