Leisure Reading at an All-Time Low?

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Say it isn't so!  As Christopher Ingraham reports in the Washington Post, the amount of time Americans spend reading for pleasure each day is on the wane.  A large-scale time use study followed more than 25,000 Americans to see what it is we do with our time each day, and, according to the study, it's not reading.

The study is fairly specific.  It's not talking about reading for information (such as reading the news or a recipe), but specifically pleasure reading, whether fiction or nonfiction.  The study found that the number of men who read for enjoyment each day declined 40% from 2004 to 2017, and for women, the drop was 29%.  All age groups (starting at age 15) saw a general decline, but it was most pronounced among 35-44 year olds. 

Of course, the study doesn't take into account how much time readers are actually spending on a book when they do read.  It's possible what we're really seeing is more a trend for "binge reading" rather than daily practice.  Still, as booklovers, we can't help but be concerned, so we've got a few suggestions on how to reverse this trend.

1. Carry a book with you.  Whether you're stuck in line at the DMV or waiting in a doctor's office, sneak in that pleasure reading where you can.

2. Get a recommendation.  Are you stuck in a reading rut?  Stop in and get an expert recommendation from our booksellers for a book you won't be able to put down!  Our Staff Favorites List is a great place to start. 

3.  Set a schedule.  Forming a new habit is tough, even if it's for something you enjoy.  Set an alarm to remind yourself to step away from the work of the day and take time to enjoy a book, just because.

4.  Make it a family occasion.  If one of the reasons you're unable to read for pleasure is family obligations, why not make time to read as a family?  If the kids are old enough to read for themselves, everyone can enjoy their own book.  If not, choose a book of short, age appropriate stories or a longer book that can be read aloud to the family as a whole.