During the craze leading up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I wrote about the book critic who complained that too many people read Harry Potter and not enough people read the good stuff.
Now, we have a survey that shows the average American reads just four books a year. (Via Ann Althouse).
One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.
The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.
I've noticed I read different numbers of books depending on the phase of my life I'm in. For example, when I was in college, I might have read four to six books a year (besides required reading), but once I graduated from college, I read voraciously for about a year or two (I probably read four to six books a month). Then when I was busy having babies, I don't think I read nearly as many books (although my husband always points out that I read Constitutional Law while breastfeeding my son...I wonder if he learned anything?).
For the last year or two, I've been back into a reading phase and read probably two books a month, which is really good for me (I'm a slow reader). But what of the quality of books I read? Typically, I don't read "important" works or things I "should" read. I read what strikes my fancy, which means a murder mystery, an autobiography about a guy who joins the circus (I love the circus), or a book on gypsies. This summer, I've read:
All seven Harry Potter books
Four Richard Jury mystery novels
The Law of Dreams
Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide
I count that as 14 books this summer, but the Harry Potter books were easy, quick reads. In any event, I don't expect to read so much so quickly again for a while. Life has a way of interfering in one's reading for entertainment, especially when the kids go back to school and you have to help them with their reading.