". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, July 2, 2007


As a follow-up to my previous post, here are some interesting statistics:

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.
(Source: Jenkins Group, Inc.)

Feel special? You should. For more statistics about readers and reading in the United States, click here.


Susan said...

I'm skeptical of the motives behind the people putting out these statistics. 58% of college grads read a book after graduation. But 67% of high-school grads continue to read after graduation. That means it's the high-school-only grads who are bringing up the average (assuming that the college grads are also high-school grads). Seems to me that going to college is dangerous for your continued education for the rest of your life....

See? I'm skeptical of their statistics and what they're trying to prove with them.

Cheryl said...

I see your point. It would be helpful to know if the statistics overlap or whether they are citing numbers for entirely separate groups--people whose highest level of education is high school versus people who have college degrees.

As for college having an unmotivating effect on reading, I find that entirely possible. Thinking about some of the reading I was made to do in both high school and college, I would not be surprised to find that for some the enjoyment of reading for its own sake continues to decline as a result of going to college. I would think this might be especially possible among people who view college as more of a training ground for getting a job than as a place to pursue learning for its own sake.

Just curious: what do you think are their motives? And what do you think they might be trying to prove with their statistics?

Jane said...

Part of the reason for the seemingly strange numbers in that statistic could be the fact that older people buy and read more books than do younger people. The percentage of college grads is smaller among older folks, especially women, who are the biggest readers.

Or it could be that the high school grads are inclusive of the college grads.

Or possibly it could be that more of the college grads are workaholic engineers like my husband. :)

I did a paper on reading habits in 1992. I used published statistics and also did a very unscientific poll of my family, friends, & neighbors. This was a sample that skewed toward the educated, and I was amazed how many of them just didn't read. They all said that they didn't have time.

I was a Realtor in the Chicago suburbs for four years. I could never believe how few books most of the people had in their houses. It made me understand why the movers always complain about our books when they move us!

elephantschild said...

Jane, I looooove your house and all its books. When my house grows up, it wants to be just like yours.