Ann Kroeker here took some interesting statistics about America’s literacy rate from a certain Jennifer from Scraps and Snippets who in turn cited it from Harvey Mackey in a 2006 article. Check it out:
- Only 14 percent of adults with a grade-school education read literature in 2002.
- 51 percent of the American population never reads a book more than 400 pages after they complete their formal education.
- The average American reads only eight hours (books, newspapers, magazines, Yellow pages etc.) every week.
- The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what he puts into his head.
Consider the following:
- If you read one book per month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world!
- If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world’s foremost leading authorities on that subject!
- If you read just 15 minutes a day — every day, for one year — you can complete 20 books!
Interesting mind snacks for ya, huh? But let me rewind a little…
Yes, I know this survey was taken at least a decade ago. But don’t you think it’s still relevant to this day? Look where the most recent tech has taken us. According to the Huffington Post in 2015,
- “…young adults used their phones an average of five hours a day — that’s roughly one-third of their total waking hours.”
Add that with all the many social medias and accessible TV shows and movies online, and we’re more plugged into online sensation than ever! I wouldn’t be surprised if reading time has decreased further today. Not surprised at all.
Second, I’d gladly rant about how this makes me lose hope for society and yadda yadda, but let’s just ask ourselves: why? Why don’t more people educate themselves and read more? Are we just too lazy? Is the phone screen too addicting? (Reading online doesn’t count, mind you; I read on my phone all the time) Maybe we are too busy? Do we not see the use for reading anymore? As my wise Mama once said, kids come out of school hating education so much that they can’t even set eyes on another book.
Now the last part I can understand.
I’m an aspiring writer. I’m a little picky when it comes to choosing books, but I always did like to read. Nevertheless, it took some self-discipline to read, too — not just light reads with elements of comedy or adventure, but something could challenge me intellectually or written on an advanced level. And as a writer, I am trying to expose myself to as many genres of books as much as I can. If I’m not writing, then I’m reading. I have a Goodreads account, by the way, and my goal is to read 50 books by the end of the year. I know that’s four times more than you need to become part of the 25th percentile of intellectuals, but 50 sounds a round, nice number to complete, and maybe I’ll be a better writer for it! Win-win.
Before the wrap, I’m going to answer the two questions that Kroeker posed on her post:
What have you read recently, and what do you plan to read?
A: I have a Goodreads account, which I linked onto my home page, and which you should check out by the way (I roast all the mediocre books 😉 ). Mostly young adult fiction, since I’m learning to write in that niche.
What I plan on reading? Hmmm. Let me start with long-term reading goals. I’d like to delve more into the classics. Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy and the other blokes. Some “young adult” novels I read have an adolescent-level slant to them, so I’m also looking for something with a more advanced reading level.
If we’re talking short-term, I need to pick up some library books similar to the genre of the novel I’m working on. It’s a psychological thriller about a psychopath turned neurotypical, and I thought maybe there should be lots of FBI and secret organization tropes for that idea. Examples include Witness to the Truth, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs (Good choice if I say so myself, heheheh), and more FBI-esque novels. It’s not my final decision…but I will keep my eyes peeled for more books that will expand my story-building ideas.
But I digress.
You want to become a better writer? Here’s one way to do it: Read! Personally I read more than 15 minutes a day, but 15 is the perfect starting point for anyone. It’s that easy!
So, what have you read recently, and what do YOU plan to read?