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Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

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November 20th, 2007

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

In the aftermath...

...of another great con, full of writerly friends and readerly people, AND Powells, the biggest little bookshop in the galaxy, I get put in my place but GOOD by a headline in yesterday's local paper.

"RECREATIONAL READING ON THE DECLINE IN THE USA"

There are, of course, lies, damn lies and statistics - but the stats are kind of sobering anyway.

* only 38% of American adults admit to having spent time reading a book for pleasure on a given day (dateline 2006; it's probably worse now)

* 65% of college freshmen in 2005 stated that they read little or nothing for pleasure

* 30% of 13-year-olds in 2004 said they read for fun almost every day, down from 35% in 1984 (and this is the heart of the Potter years, now, in 2004. If they weren't reading then they sure as hell aren't now...)

Yeah, sure, those stats are a few years old. I don't know if I expect them to be suddenly a lot better in 2007 or 2008. It used to be, says the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts as quoted in the article, that there used to be an assumption that if someone went to college they would become a lifelong reader - and the numbers bore it out. "Now," he says, "we're no longer producing readers. We're producing B.A.s and M.A.s and Ph.D.s"

As a writer, this trend worries me.

As one of those lifelong readers... it saddens me. There is a generation or three out there who just never figured out the magic of the book.... and what's worse, doesn't seem to WANT to.

Are these statistics anywhere near true? All the people I know read. It appalls me that there are so many out there who don't know what they're missing...