Reading is on the rise

After a long decline in “literary reading,” U.S. adults are hitting the fiction books, reports the National Endowment for the Arts.

According to “Reading on the Rise,” the proportion of adults who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous year has risen, the first rise since the survey began in 1982.

Fiction reading increased “among virtually all age groups, ethnic and demographic categories,” with young readers, Hispanics and blacks showing the greatest gains.  Oprah, take a bow.

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  1. Interesting. I wonder if the economic downturn has anything to do with it – I maintain that books are one of the cheapest sources of “entertainment” (but they are so much more than that) out there.

    I know I have read elsewhere that library usage has gone up during the tougher economic times.

  2. But this is so bogus. My husband reads a couple of newspapers a day–NYT and Fiancial Times. So he’s not really reading because he’s not picking up Wally Lamb? Who sits around reading plays? I have friends who don’t read much fiction, but devour history and biographies. So they don’t count, but someone reading Bergdorf Blondes does?

  3. Of course he’s reading, Kate; he’s just not reading literature, which is what the study measures. I have many friends who read plays. Depends on what kinds of circles you run in, doesn’t it? I read 20 or so books of poetry a year.

    This is lovely news and makes my heart sing. (I’m also joyful that people read The Wall Street Journal and large biographies.)

  4. Actually, some of us do sit around and read plays…even if we’re not theater people.

    I’m a biologist and when I want to relax, I want some kind of a STORY. I want to be amused, transported, made to feel. Not something like a screed on the state of the environment. Not something like Dawkins (whose late smugness infuriates me anyway); not something like journals in my field.

    I bought a nice old Heritage Press copy of “The Rivals” with “The School for Scandal” at an antiques shop this weekend. Yes, I plan to read it.