Half of Americans read a book in the last year

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

The size of the American reading public varies depending on one’s definition of reading:

In 2017, about 53 percent of American adults (roughly 125 million people) read at least one book not for school or for work in the previous 12 months, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Five years earlier, the NEA ran a more detailed survey, and found that 23 percent of American adults were “light” readers (finishing one to five titles per year), 10 percent were “moderate” (six to 11 titles), 13 percent were “frequent” (12 to 49 titles), and a dedicated 5 percent were “avid” (50 books and up).


  1. CVLR says:

    What kind of book?

  2. Sam J. says:

    That’s more than I thought would be the case.

  3. Graham says:

    I get that these surveys are all about gauging the health of popular reading as an amusement, and thus of the publishing sector. I actually appreciate they do not discriminate as to the quality or subject matter. Some surveys would narrow it to the overlapping categories of literary fiction or Oprahist fiction.

    But still, I notice they eliminate work and school and don’t otherwise specify type of book. I was an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction most of my life, but when I was in university I read nothing unrelated to work or school for most of several years. Some of my most serious reading.

    Today I do most of my reading online, sure mostly work material, some in article form, soem books related to work subjects every year. My fiction and purely pleasure reading is down. Unless you count old books read for free on Gutenberg, on my phone.

    Dunno how that configuration would rate on surveys of “reading”.

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