Feature

Are Americans reading more?

What a new NEA report says about reading habits in the U.S.

“After years of bemoaning the decline of a literary culture in the United States,” said Motoko Rich in The New York Times, the National Endowment for the Arts released a report on Monday saying “a quarter-century of precipitous decline in fiction reading has reversed.” This could be good news for the publishing industry, which is struggling “with declining sales amid a generally difficult economy.”

Don’t get too excited, said Bob Thompson in The Washington Post. “The percentage of American adults who report reading any book not required for work or school during the previous year is still declining.” And although fiction reading has increased, the number of “adults reading drama and poetry declined.”

Still, overall, “reading is up” in America, said Owen Thomas in Gawker, and that’s a good thing. But the questions in the NEA survey didn’t specify where people are reading, “even though common sense tells us that with Internet access now commonplace, some of that reading must be happening online.” It would have been nice to give the Internet some credit for restoring reading “as a normal everyday activity.”

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