Who Reads Books Anymore?

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During the last 10 years or more, Americans’ book-reading habits have steadily declined. The National Endowment for the Arts Reading at Risk survey reported that the percentage of the U.S. adult population that read any book in 1992 was 60.9 percent and declined to 56.6 percent in 2002. The percentage of U.S. adults that read literature 1992 was 54 percent and decreased to 46.7 percent in 2002.


In fact, comparatively speaking, the survey found that U.S. adults were more likely to watch TV at least one-hour a day (95.7 percent), go out to the movies (60 percent), and jog, lift weights, walk or practice other forms of exercise (55.1 percent) rather than read literature. Now, technology obviously plays a role in the decline of American’s book-reading habits. But what other factors play into adults’ lack of motivation to read?


Today’s grueling work schedules and workload, and the stress that coincides with the both of those, are likely to play a significant role in the decline in reading for leisure. Many people like to vegetate after work in front of the TV for some simple, mindless self-indulgence. Also, many people may feel like they read all day on the job—whether it’s e-mails, newsletters, the latest news regarding a technology release, etc.—and therefore don’t have a desire to actually sit down and read a book for fun. (Which is understandable, but in reality, how much more strain on one’s eyes does reading cause compared to staring at the TV?)


Not Enough Time
The most common excuse people use is that they simply do not have the time to read a book. (This excuse drives me up the wall.) Every one is strapped when it comes to time. Whether juggling multiple projects, driving family members to and from activities or cleaning the house, time is always an issue. However, we all should have time to at least read for 30 minutes per day. There are so many ways to increase your time spent reading. You could read while traveling to work on the bus or train, read while you are waiting in line to renew your driver’s license, read while you sip your morning coffee, read while you impatiently wait for your friend to arrive, etc.


The accelerating decline in reading among American adults will only increase in the coming years if action is not taken to promote and encourage reading as a leisure activity. Reading is one of the easiest ways to continue learning and broaden your knowledge base and, of course, extend your imagination.

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