May 2006

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I would've been more surprised (about people only reading an average of 5 books a year) if I hadn't just read an article about how many people in the U.S. apparently can't read AT ALL. It's insane.


I usually read zero books a year. My reading dropped way the fuck off when I started reading for a living, and never came back. I always seem to have other things I'd rather do.

Of course, I feel stupid when friends and people talk about good books. You can pretty much assume that if the author is still alive I haven't read it. I keep trying to fix this, but it just never happens.

I bet Andrew is right about over-reporting. Nobody wants to seem ignorant.


For the life of me I can't find a source for those figures. I think they're from UNESCO. But good luck finding anything on their awful website.

That figure might be *high* not low. Why? People tend to over-report reading -- in the same way they over-report perceived virtues like church attendance and under-report cheating at tax time.

For me, I probably read 20 times as many journal articles as books. So I'm not far above that average. And I work at a think tank. For someone like a carpenter in Minneapolis with 2 kids, is it really a surprise that they might take 3 months to finish one book between work and family?

Unfortunately, prolific book reading is probably a luxury mostly available only to singles and professional intellectuals... which is one reason Washingtonians are far above average.

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