Word of Encouragement: Reading is on the rise

Filed under: The Writing Life — marcia at 8:01 pm on Monday, January 12, 2009

In addition to dramatic stories bemoaning the economic downturn, recession, depression or whatever its currently called, the number of stories about the “death” of the publishing industry in general and literary publishing in particular rose exponentially. Well, it’s just not as bad as all that.

A study by the National Endowment for the Arts shows that the percentage of adults engaging in “literary” reading has gone up since 2002. Even better, the age group that increased most dramatically (18-24 year olds) is the group that previously showed the biggest decline. Youth is the future, and all that.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows: The number is lower than it was in 1992, and it’s only about half the nation’s adult population. (Really? Half of U.S. adults haven’t read one single book, short story or poem in the last 12 months???) But in a time when the media and publishing industry alike seemed allergic to anything even remotely resembling optimism, it’s good to hear something besides gloom and doom.

By 2012, let’s get that percentage up even higher than it was in 1992!!