Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Neverland, pt. 2

So sure, exaggerations are abound on all sides. Obviously not all not-readers are anti-books, or even anti-reading as an idea. But let's look at some reading stats. In Britain, the following was found in a survey done by the National Literacy Trust:

Other results included the top reasons for not reading: too tired (48%); watch TV instead (46%); play computer games (26%); work late (21%).
That's kind of interesting. Let's set aside the obvious 48% who were too tired and the 21% who work too late. These excuses are still weak[ish] but are on a separate plane of existence in regards to the other two. 46% of Britons watch TV instead of ever reading... that's an odd statistic, don't you think? We turn to the U.S. with Humorwriters.org's stats:

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
The first two seem shocking in their vulgarity. You start counting on your fingers... no, it can't be true that almost half of college grads don't read! Except it maybe makes a bit of sense. In the sad sort of way. The next two stats are equally bizarre, if only because nowadays bookstores are also music stores. Perhaps these stats are outdated (2003)? And then finally, the one that I think speaks the most. I'll leave that for later.

Sweden brings us a number of interesting stats as well, ones that deal with exactly our question: It turns out that in 2003 almost half the male population "never [read] books". The number has gone down a bit since then, but it's still up there in 45% land.

So those friends who don't read and we don't believe that proudly stated line: maybe [let's hope not] they aren't lying. Perhaps, indeed, many more people live in Neverland than we thought. The grossly generalized/simplistic principle is that of time. The Britain stats showed that people would rather do other things. A small minority within this larger group, however, view reading as something used and old. They will march proudly on.

Yet the remaining majority exists. About half the population (give or take, depending obviously on the country and region you live in) appears to not read. Encouraging reading among those who don't read for lack of interest (not out of silly ideological hate...) or time should be a top priority for those who do read. There will always be that struggle between devoted readers and the casually dismissive. Let's try to narrow the gap between the two groups, though.

1 comment:

  1. The statistics might possibly be a bit less alarming than they seem. (I am hoping.) Like, say: Books are important and wonderful things, of course, but people can read other things too. Newspapers, magazines... blogs...

    Okay, yeah, those statistics suck. Although in regard to the bookstore statistic, people order a lot of things online now, so they could be ordering books (and of course downloading music, legally or otherwise) without actually going to a bookstore.

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