CNN tells us today that the average American reads 4 books a year. 25% of all adults read NO books this year.
It's no wonder scenes like this happen:
From Gawker, August 13, Observations: Scenes From L.A. by doree
But the best part of my trip to California was a conversation I overheard at a Carl's Jr. on Highway 5.
Girl to guy: "Yeah, and then we read this book called the Metamorphosis? It's about a guy who turns into a bug!"
Guy: "That sounds dumb."
Girl: "Yeah, it was retarded."
Guy: "I had to buy that book Elements of Style for one of my classes."
Girl: "That sounds familiar. We also read To the Lighthouse. It has no plot!"
Although, to be fair, it's not like they were wrong. Everyone from Martha Woodmansee to James Wood would say much the same.
I think that's fucking sad. I am not the best reader anymore, with the Internet and films taking up a large portion of my attention. And I tried cataloging my habits on GoodReads, but I haven't made that a priority, which means I haven't touched it in months.
However, I still read. I blogged about my compulsion to read here. I tried to think back over the past year, and I think I average a book a week. Even with a conservative estimate of a book every two weeks, I read 26 books this past year. If I think long enough, I can list them all.
That also means that I've read 6 to 12 times more than an average American. Can I have a prize now? Oh, and this is reading for PLEASURE. To expand your mind. To learn something. To enjoy the beauty of language and concepts. To have a good story. Unless, of course, you are this guy:
"Fiction just doesn't interest me," said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Alabama. "If I'm going to get a story, I'll get a movie."
I am not including any reading that was necessary for work. I am also not including Vanity Fair, which, when read from cover to cover, as I do, qualifies for 12 novels a year. I would love to keep reading The New Yorker, but I just don't have the time.
So, gentle reader - how do you compare to the average American? Do tell. And everything counts - books read for class. Books read to your children. Books read for work. Literary magazines. I don't think "Cosmo"/"Glamour"/"People" count.