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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shocker: America Is Reading Less

Posted by on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 1:04 PM

The NEA has released a (PDF) report about how Americans consume art. It's a fascinating glimpse at culture in America today. And of course, as always, the literature section is full of bad news:

1) Reading of fiction and poetry has declined since 2008, while play-reading has remained at the same, comparably lower rate.

• The rate of adults reading novels or short stories is back down to the 2002 level. From 2002 to 2012, the poetry-reading rate nearly halved.

•The declines in literary reading (novels or short stories, poetry, or plays) occurred among whites, women as well as men, middle-aged adults, and adults from various educational backgrounds.

So 56.1 percent of all American women read at least one "work of literature" in 2012, compared to 36.9 percent of all men. Those numbers are both down from 2008, when it was 58 percent of women and 41.9 percent of men. Only Americans over the age of 65 reported reading more in 2012 than in past years. Of course, this is indicative of the collapse of American culture and the disintegration of society. Except, most of those numbers went up between 2002 and 2008, so maybe it's just a temporary thing? Who knows? We'll all be getting our news from a scent-based delivery system in ten years, anyway, so it's all moot.

If you're at all interested in the arts, I suggest you go read the full report, which has plenty of information about the way America consumes movies, crafts, theater, and more.


Comments (22) RSS

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Urgutha Forka 1
Can someone sum up Paul's post for me? I didn't read it.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 14, 2014 at 1:15 PM · Report this
Fnarf 2
@1, civilization came to an end.
Posted by Fnarf on January 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Rotten666 3
looks like America hates poetry about as much as I do.
Posted by Rotten666 on January 14, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
rob! 4
This is clearly dangerously subversive information that should result in the NEA being defunded entirely.

I realized with a jolt that there are adults walking around today who were not born when the right wing first started attacking the NEA, and have never heard of John Frohnmayer or the NEA Four, for example.
Ronald Reagan intended to push Congress to abolish the NEA completely over a three-year period upon entering the office in 1981. However, this plan was abandoned when the president's special task force on the arts and humanities, which included close Reagan allies such as conservatives Charlton Heston and Joseph Coors, discovered "the needs involved and benefits of past assistance," concluding that continued federal support was important.
Posted by rob! on January 14, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
venomlash 5
Over half of Americans didn't read a single "work of literature" in a whole year. Does that include novels, or just the heavier stuff?
Posted by venomlash on January 14, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Report this
pfffter 6
The numbers were up between 2002 and 2008 … coinciding roughly with the Bush years? Interesting. Could it be that all of us liberals were holed up in our houses reading novels until our Kenyan socialist overlord took over, then we came out of the woodwork for all of our handouts?
Posted by pfffter on January 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 7
Posted by Sir Vic on January 14, 2014 at 2:21 PM · Report this
While I may read fewer books, I'm pretty sure I'm reading more words per year.

So thanks for that, Internet :)
Posted by Jonman on January 14, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
Who reads poetry on purpose outside of a scholastic context?
Posted by The CHZA on January 14, 2014 at 2:38 PM · Report this
pfffter 10
@9 Civilized people.
Posted by pfffter on January 14, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Report this
Numbers up in 2002-2008 would correspond fairly well to the height of the Harry Potter craze. The first movie came out in 2001, which is when LOTS of people really got into the series and had to catch up on the previous books. The 5th book (2003), the sixth book (2005), and the 7th book (2007) set all sorts of sales records. The Harry Potter films were also coming out steadily during those years and each film probably sent a new wave of people off to read the books.
Posted by Tom Winter on January 14, 2014 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 12
@1, he pushed adults reading comic books instead of real books. Now we are all fucked. THANK'S PAUL!!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on January 14, 2014 at 3:11 PM · Report this
fletc3her 13
I wonder how the group of people who didn't read anything correlates with the group who doesn't believe in evolution. I guess the bible is a book, but then isn't the whole point of church that you can have someone read the book to you rather than reading it yourself.

I guess my paltry couple books a month doesn't look so bad now.
Posted by fletc3her on January 14, 2014 at 3:24 PM · Report this
venomlash 14
@9: Pick up a copy of "Joyful Noise" by Paul Fleischman and get back to me.
Posted by venomlash on January 14, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
mikethehammer 15
Uh, what's "play reading?"
Posted by mikethehammer on January 14, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
@15, the reading of plays? They print them in books, you know. "Shakespeare" ring a bell?
Posted by Fnarf on January 14, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
fletc3her 17
@5 In this context a "work of literature" includes novels, short stories, poetry, and plays not read for school or work.

The actual questionnaire is in the 2012 SPPA instrument from the link below. This is how the question about "literature" was phrased. They say newspapers and magazines don't count, except if they are focused on literature. Like maybe the New Yorker or a literary journal. I don't see anything about comics. Someone who read the Sandman might have considered it equivalent to a novel, but I doubt someone who follows Archie would.

[During the last 12 months] did you read any (INSERT)?
a. Novels or short stories
b. Poetry
c. Plays…
Posted by fletc3her on January 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 18

What about non-fiction?

I generally read nonfiction to novels at a ratio of around 20 to 1.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on January 14, 2014 at 5:21 PM · Report this
ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ 19
@18: Libertarian conspiracy literature doesn't, in fact, count as nonfiction.
Posted by ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ on January 14, 2014 at 7:25 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 20
What libertarian conspiracy?
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on January 14, 2014 at 9:06 PM · Report this
venomlash 21
@20: I don't know what's on your bookshelf, nerd.
Posted by venomlash on January 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM · Report this
notaboomer 22
people don't read books b/c they're too busy checking their stupid fucking mobile gizmos every two seconds. i bet conversation is down since 08 too. the powerbrokers love this shit btw. much easier to herd the sheep.
Posted by notaboomer on January 15, 2014 at 10:40 AM · Report this

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