Fiction Reading on the Rise

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Culture

When I’m not bloviating (blogviating?) on the web or making an increasingly meager living as a freelance marketing writing, I write fiction. That’s why this piece of news is a nice ray of light amidst the dark news stories filling the new year.

Fiction reading is on the rise for the first time since the early 1980s.

The report, “Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,” being released Monday, is based on data from “The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts” conducted by the United States Census Bureau in 2008. Among its chief findings is that for the first time since 1982, when the bureau began collecting such data, the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen.

The caveat is: this is only a one-year trend and fiction reading is still below levels seen even 15 years ago (currently, just 50.2% of adults report reading a novel, short story, poem or play in the last year). Fine, fine. I won’t quit my day job. But allow me a moment to imagine, in this world of hi-def television, podcasts, blogs, Wii games and Facebook, there is still an important place for stories and poetry in our culture.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats reading a well-written story. I read almost daily and love everything from Hemmingway to David Foster Wallace to George R. R. Martin to Edward P. Jones to so many more it would be tedious for me to list them all here. Literature, whether the heady canonical variety or the best-selling vampire romance variety, engages our imaginations in ways no other media can. I fully believe fiction and poetry are essential components of a healthy culture.

And now I’ll get off my “up with literature” soapbox and let you return to another important cultural activity: reading Donklephant.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 and is filed under Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Fiction Reading on the Rise”

  1. Derek Viger Says:

    Garrison Keillor wrote a column found at Salon recently on the exact same thing. He brings up a good point. People may be reading more, but what are we reading. Books were people go SPLAT says Keillor.

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