Thursday, December 13, 2007

Improve Your Life By Reading

This sounds good at first blush:
The National Endowment for the Arts finds in a current report, To Read or Not To Read, that frequent readers are more likely to vote, participate in sports, visit museums and get high-paying jobs [...]

The problem is, the quote goes on to say:
[...]-- but that with cable TV and internet competition, the rate of "literary reading" (i.e., reading books out of interest and for personal pleasure, rather than because one must read them for school or work) is falling in all American age-groups.

Turns out that reading rates in America have dropped 10% in a little over two decades. Read the rather depressing report here. Let's hope that we've found a new bottom, and that it's not a trend that'll continue too much further.

Unless of course this report fails to take into account all the reading people do online. I wonder what the statics for voting, high paying jobs, and museum visits are for folks who spend an hour or so a day reading blogs, news sites, and writing there own?


John Ottinger III (Grasping for the Wind) said...

Good point about the online reading. Though to be honest, online reading, which tends to be "snippet" reading I think has less overall value than reading a book. Online reading is usually faster and less focuses (at least for me) than curling up with a tome after work.

I think that reading that tome, and the learning plus relaxing that goes with it is what results in higher paying jobs, sports participation etc.

Thanks for the layout suggestion, by the way.

Nikchick said...

I think it would be a mistake to disregard online reading but I'll bet they're calculating this stuff based on print media only. I do a LOT of "educational" reading online when I'm reading political blogs (with sometimes some very detailed analysis of issues that I would never have been exposed to otherwise), for example. I think it's fair to admit that a lot of online reading is more shallow than reading a several hundred page book on the subject but what online readers miss in "depth" we can make up in breadth.

Bruce Cordell said...

Another way a lot of people are getting content previously unavailable is through podcasts. I get a breadth (though not depth) of science news that I couldn't have hoped to have piped into my brain years ago.

Then again, I still am a literary reader, too. Just finished Halting State by Stross and picked up Fleet of Worlds by Niven/Lerner.

Anonymous said...

Bruce--I finished reading Darkvision and feel my life has improved. :)

Bruce Cordell said...


Do you mean Stardeep, or do you really mean Darkvision? Either way, I know you'll benefit from the wisdom imparted :-)

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a chance to read Stardeep yet. Someone in my family is taking it around and showing off her "contribution";)