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RookieWriter
09-20-2012, 09:31 AM
Clearly many of the people on here are writers, so they are also readers. What I am asking is, is reading books common with young adults? It seems to me that most young adults (18-30) are watching TV several hours a day, but have not picked up a book in years. They go out drinking, play XBOX, watch movies and reality shows, and talk about fantasy football. They might spend an hour a day reading Facebook, but not a book. Reality shows like Jersey Shore will get 6 million viewers, but a great book that can improve your life will only sell 100,000 copies. Bookstores are getting tougher to find, but there is no shortage of places to buy the latest Call of Duty for your PS3.

This is a TV culture, and that seems to be the case with young people more than ever. At least that is my observation. I know "50 Shades" has gotten a lot of attention in recent months, but that will fade out. It's the first book in a while that seems to have become a household name.

Do you find this to be the case? Do you think young people do little to no reading?

Speed Racer
09-20-2012, 09:41 AM
Rookie, I think you are right on with YA, but books become movies and once it becomes popular the movies sell more books. Example: Hunger Games, Twilight.

Sydneyd
09-20-2012, 09:51 AM
Teenagers definitely read. All of them do not. Just like all of them don't play the XBox, or like the same shows, or fiddle around on Facebook--wait, no. Everyone fiddles on facebook.

My nieces read a lot. They love books for Christmas and birthdays.

Terie
09-20-2012, 11:57 AM
It seems to me that most young adults (18-30) are watching TV several hours a day, but have not picked up a book in years.

To clarify something: In the world of publishing, the term 'young adult' has a very explicit meaning that is not '18-30'. 'Young adult' in publishing means 'teenagers'. That's why several of your responses have been about teenagers.

There are people who read for pleasure and people who don't read for pleasure in every age category. There is a smaller percentage of people who read for pleasure today than fifty years ago. For the reasons you mention.

And yet more books are sold now than ever before.

So....(shrug). Sorry, but I don't get the point of the question.

meowzbark
09-20-2012, 12:13 PM
I know quite a few teenagers that read.

But, many of them only read "popular" books. They're not devoted readers like I was as a teenager.

Alitriona
09-20-2012, 12:30 PM
I surrounded by avid readers of all ages in my virtual life and my real life. Lots of them are in the age bracket you mention. I also know many people who haven't picked up a book to read for pleasure in years. It's possible to have a social life, watch TV, and enjoy books.

EMaree
09-20-2012, 12:55 PM
Er, hey, 20-year-old here who reads a ridiculous amount each year.

While the non-writers around me read a lot less, very few of them read nothing at all. I work in an office environment where maybe 90% of the staff have books with them to read, and a lot of my friends have been reading sci fi and fantasy since they were young. Some of my older friends tend to get spurred into reading decisions by TV, picking up the books after watching Game of Thrones or True Blood.

As for actual teenagers... from accounts on here they seem to be picking up popular series, attending book signings, asking great questions when authors visit their schoold and interacting with authors on Twitter.

Young people are reading. Don't believe the pessimising that surrounds everyone under 30 and labels us as having short attention spans and whittling our hours away watching TV. Looking around, they're actually reading a look more than anyone seems to think.

seun
09-20-2012, 01:04 PM
Plenty of people of all ages read and plenty don't.

Eddyz Aquila
09-20-2012, 01:54 PM
I'm 21, I love the FIFA video games series, I'm an avid dancer, watch movies once in a while and do every bit that young adults do. (apart from drinking, I'm not into alcohol)

Oh, yes, forgot to mention, I love to read. I read a lot. :D

Anninyn
09-20-2012, 02:14 PM
well, I'm 18-30 and I read. As do most of my friends - same age range. Some don;t read much, or don;t read fiction (I am currently bombarding my friend who doesn;t read fiction with books) but they all read.

I also go out drinking and play computer games.

It's not a one-or-the-other thing. Just because you enjoy one thing doesn't mean you won't do another. Reading is very passive, and a lot of people, especially my age, only do it in bed or on the bus/train. 18-30 is kind of the wild years. You're young, attractive and you have the ability to earn money, so it's not surprising that someone might prefer to do something more actively entertaining.

But jsut cause they do that doesn't mean they also read. I see lots of people my age in bookstores and I've had talks about favourite books with wild club kids. But if you see them out on the piss, they're unlikely to have a book in hand.

TL; DR

Just cause you don't see people reading doesn't mean they aren't.

Cyia
09-20-2012, 02:28 PM
A book that sells 100,000 copies can have far more than 100,000 readers. Between half-price book stores that resell books, libraries that loan them, shared copies, people who pass along books to friends or lend out their own books to those who can't buy them, you can have 3, 5 or more people reading for every copy sold - especially with libraries. They can get nearly 30 lends on one copy before the wear and tear on the book means they need to buy a new one.

lastlittlebird
09-20-2012, 02:32 PM
Bookstores are getting tougher to find, but there is no shortage of places to buy the latest Call of Duty for your PS3.

I would argue that the demise of local bookstores has more to do with the rise of Amazon and other book toting websites rather than a growing lack of interest in books...as a perpetually broke young person I was going to get my books from the cheapest place I could find and, apart from closing down sales, that was usually online.

In fact, a lot of brick and mortar game stores are going the same way and for the same reason...

KTC
09-20-2012, 02:39 PM
My YA doesn't read. He's an almost 17yo boy. But he has inside him the love of reading. Often, boys come back to reading as young men. I hope this happens with J. He read MY YA...in one sitting, too. But it really has to be something he loves before he will waste the valuable time. He hasn't even looked at my latest novel. (-: My son-in-law read about 2 books for pleasure all his life. This past month, he devoured all three Hunger Games books...and is starting to look around for something to read. He's one who is coming back to reading as a young man. He's 25...good to see people come back to writing. But even better when they don't leave it.

I think this is pretty typical...so, yes young adults read...but not all of them. Some put it aside for more glittery and flashy things and come back to it once the bam bam bam appeal wears off and they find themselves wanting to explore inwardly...put the skateboard aside and save their knees.

Anninyn
09-20-2012, 02:43 PM
I would argue that the demise of local bookstores has more to do with the rise of Amazon and other book toting websites rather than a growing lack of interest in books...as a perpetually broke young person I was going to get my books from the cheapest place I could find and, apart from closing down sales, that was usually online.

In fact, a lot of brick and mortar game stores are going the same way and for the same reason...

yeah, we used to have three games stores in the city centre, now we have 1 - 2 if you count the second-hand tech place. Exactly the same number of bookstores - in fact, I think there are more bookstores than games shops in my city centre. 1 chain, 1 independent, 1 discount.

The idea that you can't both play games and read books is silly, really, of course you can. Many of the people playing games are also reading books. And games aren't inferior to books - while they're still a fairly new story-telling medium, some have deep and intriguing storylines. Bioshock is a great example, as are Portal and Portal 2. Those games were cleverer, more innovative and better written than some books I've read.

My love affair with games is shallower than my love affair with books - but it's been a long time since a book got in my head and ruled my thoughts in the same way that Portal 2 did when I first played it.

seun
09-20-2012, 03:00 PM
My love affair with games is shallower than my love affair with books - but it's been a long time since a book got in my head and ruled my thoughts in the same way that Portal 2 did when I first played it.

Other than my book, of course.

Anninyn
09-20-2012, 03:06 PM
Other than my book, of course.

Of course.

WeaselFire
09-20-2012, 05:28 PM
Teen age girls read voraciously. Teen age boys are too tied up with trying to understand teen age girls. :)

Obviously, there are demographics involved as well. Upper middle class teens read a lot more, probably because their parents do as well. Locally there are quite a few YA with reading difficulties, mostly English as a second language, and their demographic is TV, not books.

Of course, no teenager would dare suggest reading during American Idol, Vampire Diaries or True Blood.

Jeff

Phaeal
09-20-2012, 05:37 PM
The most cursory perusal of industry news will show the explosion in YA publishing. Not only do YAs read these books, so do OAs (old adults.)

YAs also read OA books, and always have. At least I did back in the days when books were bound in dinosaur hide.

Fifty Shades is not YA, btw, despite its fanfic roots in Twilight.

;)

Susan Littlefield
09-20-2012, 06:38 PM
It depends upon the person. I agree that kids (to me, anyone under 30) are too absorbed in computers and video games, though, but when I was a kid (under 30) they were absorbed in other things.

buz
09-20-2012, 06:52 PM
Plenty of people of all ages read and plenty don't.
This.

Whether or not people read has nothing to do with their age, except insofar as it has an effect on literacy.

angeluscado
09-20-2012, 06:52 PM
My sister falls into the publisher-defined "young adult" category and she reads about as much as I do (which is a lot). She's probably got a quarter of my library stacked around her room and my parent's house because of all of the books she's borrowed. She watches TV too, but isn't a huge video game fan. When I was her age, I was devouring books as quickly as I could get my hands on them.

By your definition of young adult, a lot of women at my office fall into that age range, and almost all of them are carrying around a book or two in their purses and they're reading during lunch or on the bus commute to work. They watch TV (some of it trashy reality TV), but we all need a little brain candy once in a while.

Like others have said, it's not one or the other. People can still enjoy books while still tuning into the boob tube.

Terie
09-20-2012, 06:59 PM
Hey, guys.

Those of you who are talking about teenagers....did you even read the OP's post? Or did you just read the title?

Because the question isn't about teenagers; it's about 18- to 30-year-olds. Even though the OP used the term 'young adult' incorrectly, reading the post makes it clear what age range the question is actually about.

I mean, gosh, one would think that writers would take the time to actually READ a post (ironically, one about READING) before posting an answer.

Lady Ice
09-20-2012, 07:04 PM
I think that a lot of teenager may be casual readers, even if they aren't devoted ones.

JSSchley
09-20-2012, 07:31 PM
If it hadn't been for Harry Potter, which started to boom in the US with the release of Book IV right when I turned 18, I would not have read a whole lot between 18-30. As it was, most of my reading consisted of reading and re-reading HP.

This is actually one reason I find the discussions of the New Adult non-category very interesting. I think there are very few contemporary books which speak to that age of reader, and I don't think that twenty-somethings' experiences are so diverse that there aren't universal themes like there are in YA (an argument I've heard from several agents). I know I can think of only a handful of books I've read about characters in that age range and dealing with things like finding their first job (or leaving their first job) deciding whether or not to marry and whom, separating from being the "kid" and becoming the "grown-up" etc. The ones I can think of are all chick lit (and I use that term not disparagingly but because it really does encapsulate that they are usually light romances--nothing wrong with that, but there's very little out there that speaks to that age range that is not in that genre).

I know as a bookseller I don't have much to offer as far as books with protagonists in that age range. So there's not much out there for the casual reader between 18-30...either you read book club fiction (usually the purview of the serious readers), FIFTY SHADES, or commercial genre fiction--but there's not much else.

French Maiden
09-20-2012, 07:32 PM
I'm 24 and am a major book worm. Having said that, I can and will only read what I'm interested in. I am usually very hesitant to try anything out of my particular genre.

I occasionally Beta read for a girl who writes but doesnt read, and boy oh boy does it show in her writing.

I think it depends on the people in regards to the reading. I know alot of people(young adults) who would sit down and watch a whole season of Greys Anaotmy but then go and read a whole series of books in a month without turning the Tele on once.

When I was a kid I read occasionally. It wasnt until Harry Potter came out that I found a love of reading. It was slow to start with but when I hit late teens I really delved into a world of reading. Dont get me wrong I'm a couch potato, I can sit in front of the Tele for days, but I love to read as well.

I know pleanty of middle aged folk who cant read a book to save themselves. It's the individual not the group as a whole I think.

James D. Macdonald
09-20-2012, 08:40 PM
Yes, young adults read.


The comment about how a level of sales that would make a publisher break out the champagne for getting that many readers would get a TV show canceled for having that few viewers ... has been true for the last fifty years. At least.

blueobsidian
09-20-2012, 09:10 PM
It seems to me that most young adults (18-30) are watching TV several hours a day, but have not picked up a book in years. They go out drinking, play XBOX, watch movies and reality shows, and talk about fantasy football. They might spend an hour a day reading Facebook, but not a book. Reality shows like Jersey Shore will get 6 million viewers, but a great book that can improve your life will only sell 100,000 copies. Bookstores are getting tougher to find, but there is no shortage of places to buy the latest Call of Duty for your PS3.

Way to generalize an entire generation into a series of stereotypes. I fall into that age range, and just about everyone I know reads. Yes, many of us also enjoy video games, movies, and football. What's the problem with having a diverse selection of leisure activities that you enjoy? The fact that I participate in a fantasy football league doesn't make my reading or writing any less legitimate.

And, as a previous poster mentioned, good game shops are becoming as difficult to find as good bookstores. It's the online industry, not a reflection of what people are actually buying.

Phaeal
09-20-2012, 09:18 PM
Hey, guys.

Those of you who are talking about teenagers....did you even read the OP's post? Or did you just read the title?

Because the question isn't about teenagers; it's about 18- to 30-year-olds. Even though the OP used the term 'young adult' incorrectly, reading the post makes it clear what age range the question is actually about.

I mean, gosh, one would think that writers would take the time to actually READ a post (ironically, one about READING) before posting an answer.

You are correct. You also sound like you're having a bad day.

In our joint defense, the parenthetical 18-30 was easy to miss. Also, the young adult market is so booming that any use of "young adult" is likely to instantly translate to "YA" in the writerly mind.

As for the 18-30 year olds, why, these days they're just enjoying an extended adolescence, aren't they? ;)

There has been talk that it's difficult to sell to the college-age/early professional demographic, sometimes called "New Adult." I don't know. People who read as YAs are likely to keep reading as NAs are likely to keep reading as OAs.

DragonHeart
09-20-2012, 09:35 PM
The problem with stereotypes is that they are untrue as often as not. I love Netflix, video games (though I play PS3, not Xbox) and going to the theater with friends, but I also read at least 50 books a year. I also go to college and work full time. Oh, and I write, too. Occasionally for money.

The "problem" today isn't that people in my age bracket don't like reading, it's that many of us have a diverse range of hobbies on top of juggling multiple responsibilities. Sometimes I have to make a choice between reading a book for fun and reading a book for grades. Obviously, the one I get graded on is the one I'm going to read first.

I will say that eReaders are a godsend, and I'm not the only one among my peers with that opinion. I read more now than ever because ebooks are very convenient (don't have to go to the store or wait for shipping), easy to store and take up very little room compared to a paper library. I know more than a few people who didn't even read much normally before getting an eReader and now do so more regularly because it's a tool that works better for them than the original paper medium.

friendlyhobo
09-20-2012, 09:39 PM
The problem with stereotypes is that they are untrue as often as not. I love Netflix, video games (though I play PS3, not Xbox) and going to the theater with friends, but I also read at least 50 books a year. I also go to college and work full time. Oh, and I write, too. Occasionally for money.

The "problem" today isn't that people in my age bracket don't like reading, it's that many of us have a diverse range of hobbies on top of juggling multiple responsibilities. Sometimes I have to make a choice between reading a book for fun and reading a book for grades. Obviously, the one I get graded on is the one I'm going to read first.


We appear to be in similar positions.

Sydneyd
09-20-2012, 09:57 PM
Hey, guys.

Those of you who are talking about teenagers....did you even read the OP's post? Or did you just read the title?

Because the question isn't about teenagers; it's about 18- to 30-year-olds. Even though the OP used the term 'young adult' incorrectly, reading the post makes it clear what age range the question is actually about.

I mean, gosh, one would think that writers would take the time to actually READ a post (ironically, one about READING) before posting an answer.

I must've missed that part last night when I responded. Though, I could've been reminded of this a little more nicely.

Now I know the OP is talking about me. And this makes me laugh. Of course I read. I don't play XBox, or any other type of video game. I did have a brief affair with The Jersey Shore, one weekend many years ago, but I try to forget about those two dark days in my life. I've read many more weekends since then.

gothicangel
09-20-2012, 11:06 PM
I'm 30, and I read can a book [on average] every 10 days. My English degree almost killed reading for me. Four years of forced, speed-reading sucked the joy out of it for me.

Thankfully I discovered Rosemary Sutcliff. :)

gothicangel
09-20-2012, 11:11 PM
Now I know the OP is talking about me. And this makes me laugh. Of course I read. I don't play XBox, or any other type of video game. I did have a brief affair with The Jersey Shore, one weekend many years ago, but I try to forget about those two dark days in my life. I've read many more weekends since then.

I have to say, I rarely watch tv these days, and never been a computer-games fan. If I'm not reading or working, then I will either be doing my Latin course, found at an English Heritage property or meeting up with friends for a coffee and some shopping.

DragonHeart
09-20-2012, 11:26 PM
I'd also like to point out, quickly, that not all video games are Call of Duty and the like. I myself tend to play story-driven games. Just because it's a different medium doesn't automatically mean it's inferior. And in the old days ;) before games had voice acting, it was all text. For a 60+ hour RPG, that's a lot of reading. And even with voice acting there's still lots of reading to be done in some types of games.

Video games still have writers too, and many of them do a damn fine job of it. Just because it's not on paper doesn't make it any less worthwhile than a book.

Sydneyd
09-21-2012, 01:18 AM
I didn't mean for my post to slam video games or those who play them. I just meant, I don't play them.

RookieWriter
09-21-2012, 03:15 AM
To clarify something: In the world of publishing, the term 'young adult' has a very explicit meaning that is not '18-30'. 'Young adult' in publishing means 'teenagers'. That's why several of your responses have been about teenagers.

There are people who read for pleasure and people who don't read for pleasure in every age category. There is a smaller percentage of people who read for pleasure today than fifty years ago. For the reasons you mention.

And yet more books are sold now than ever before.

So....(shrug). Sorry, but I don't get the point of the question.

Please excuse my mistake about the age group. I'm new to the field of writing and publishing, so I appreciate learning new things. I do learn something new each time I come on here so thank you for the correction.

Also, I want to make something clear to some of the other posters...I was not trying to stereotype younger people at all, I was simply speaking from experience. Before I got into writing I worked in a bar and most of the people working there were in that age range. I can't recall any of them ever saying book, much less telling me how much they love to read. So I was only speaking from personal experience, I was not trying to be condescending. And when I was in that age group I did very little reading. It just seemed to me that reading and writing are starting to become a lost craft. I'm glad to see that many people know many others who are avid readers.

A few people have posted that the local bookstores have gone away because of online sales. I hope that's the case, not because I want to see local bookstores fail, I want them to do well, but because I don't want people to replace reading with the TV or social networking. For the record I watch TV, play PS3, and use social networking, so I wasn't putting that down.

This thread was basically me expressing an observation from personal experience and trying to get feedback on the experience and observation of others. Thanks for your answers.

RookieWriter
09-21-2012, 03:18 AM
I'd also like to point out, quickly, that not all video games are Call of Duty and the like. I myself tend to play story-driven games. Just because it's a different medium doesn't automatically mean it's inferior. And in the old days ;) before games had voice acting, it was all text. For a 60+ hour RPG, that's a lot of reading. And even with voice acting there's still lots of reading to be done in some types of games.

Video games still have writers too, and many of them do a damn fine job of it. Just because it's not on paper doesn't make it any less worthwhile than a book.

I just picked Call of Duty because I know it's a popular game, I could have picked many other names of games.

The second part is a good point and one I had not though of. Thanks for pointing that out. Now that I think about it, the story telling games do have a script and character development to them.

LJD
09-21-2012, 03:46 AM
Please excuse my mistake about the age group. I'm new to the field of writing and publishing, so I appreciate learning new things. I do learn something new each time I come on here so thank you for the correction.

Also, I want to make something clear to some of the other posters...I was not trying to stereotype younger people at all, I was simply speaking from experience. Before I got into writing I worked in a bar and most of the people working there were in that age range. I can't recall any of them ever saying book, much less telling me how much they love to read. So I was only speaking from personal experience, I was not trying to be condescending. And when I was in that age group I did very little reading. It just seemed to me that reading and writing are starting to become a lost craft. I'm glad to see that many people know many others who are avid readers.

A few people have posted that the local bookstores have gone away because of online sales. I hope that's the case, not because I want to see local bookstores fail, I want them to do well, but because I don't want people to replace reading with the TV or social networking. For the record I watch TV, play PS3, and use social networking, so I wasn't putting that down.

This thread was basically me expressing an observation from personal experience and trying to get feedback on the experience and observation of others. Thanks for your answers.

I very rarely mention reading at work or when I'm out with my friends. It's just not something I talk much about, in part because my reading tastes differ so wildly from theirs.

But I've read close to 12 novellas and 36 novels so far this year, and I'm 27. My boyfriend (he's 30), reads every day. I do not play videogames. I can't remember the last time I watched a reality show. I spend maybe an hour on Facebook a MONTH. Yes, my 25-year-old brother does not read, but there are lots of older people who don't read either.

And I don't like sweeping generalizations about my generation. People are always complaining about "kids these days" as though we're all the same. I know you didn't mean to be condescending, but it was a little condescending to me.

If your personal experience is based on what your young colleagues talk about, you have to understand how extremely limited that personal experience is. And, just because someone doesn't talk about books at a bar, doesn't mean they don't read.

DragonHeart
09-21-2012, 09:58 PM
I rarely talk about reading (or anything personal) when I'm at work. Or in general, really, except to post in threads or on Goodreads what I'm currently reading and if I like it or not. In actual conversation, almost never. Reading is a very personal activity and there are so many books out there that the chances of finding someone who reads exactly what I read is slim to none. If I were to start a conversation with a hypothetical coworker who likes to read and ask, "have you read the Iron Druid Chronicles?", chances are I'll get a blank stare and a "no". If I ask a coworker who's a gamer if they've played Assassin's Creed, I'll more than likely get a "hell yeah, I can't wait for III!". I know this from experience. :D

meowzbark
09-21-2012, 11:04 PM
Okay, as far as 18-30...I think that there are way more than you'd imagine. I have tons of friends who read and we swap books. And then I know people that don't read at all.

Reading was very popular with prison employees. We had quite a bit of downtime and we weren't allowed to have any electronics within the gates. I would say about 30% of employees found ways to smuggle in books to read - it's not illegal to do but it is frowned upon. We'd swap the books with each other inside the prison. A single book could have more readers than one you'd find in a library. Sometimes once the employees finished read the book, we'd pass it along to the inmate library.

Now that I don't work at a prison, still I find quite a few of the females I hang around are readers. Most of them don't venture far from the NY bestseller list (Twilight, Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, FSoG, Game of Thrones), but they still have personal libraries.

It's hard to tell how many people read a book compared to how many people buy a book. But I've found most of my favorite all-time authors from borrowing books from friends. After I read, I buy my own copy or buy the next book from the author and then I'll share my copy with friends.

I bet if you ask people ages 18-30 if they've read Harry Potter - you'll be surprised how high the number is. If you ask these same people if they consider themselves regular readers, it's probably much less. But then you have to consider, how many books a year do you have to read to be considered a reader?

gothicangel
09-21-2012, 11:54 PM
But then you have to consider, how many books a year do you have to read to be considered a reader?

Well, in my opinion if you read at least one, you are a reader. Of course not all readers read fiction. I know a lot of people who just read non-fiction. I currently have 3 books on the go: one novel and two history non-fiction. Then what about people who prefer short stories, poetry, magazines/newspapers, or journals/periodicals. Are they not readers too?

BardSkye
09-22-2012, 12:25 AM
And I don't like sweeping generalizations about my generation. People are always complaining about "kids these days" as though we're all the same.


I think that particular complaint has probably been around since we learned to walk upright. To my horror, I've even been guilty of starting to think it myself on occasion. (Then I remind myself that my parents' generation was thinking exactly the same thing about ME!)

strictlytopsecret
09-22-2012, 12:36 AM
According to this 2005 Gallup poll, about 40% of folks age 18-29 were currently reading a book when the poll was taken. However, you'd probably have to factor in the possibility that a fair number of those kids were in college, and were reading a textbook or other assigned material (which, to me, isn't the same as reading a novel for pleasure): http://www.gallup.com/poll/16582/about-half-americans-reading-book.aspx

According to this article, which did not reference specific age ranges, 25% of folks read zero books in the year preceding the poll. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/21/AR2007082101045.html . If the trend in the numbers from the first article holds true (i.e., that the 18-29 age range reads the fewest books), one could surmise that a substantial portion of kids in that age range rarely pick up a book. At least voluntarily.

Both of these are a bit dated, but I suspect the numbers haven't changed much in the past 10 years or so.

~STS~

LJD
09-22-2012, 01:06 AM
According to this 2005 Gallup poll, about 40% of folks age 18-29 were currently reading a book when the poll was taken. However, you'd probably have to factor in the possibility that a fair number of those kids were in college, and were reading a textbook or other assigned material (which, to me, isn't the same as reading a novel for pleasure): http://www.gallup.com/poll/16582/about-half-americans-reading-book.aspx

When I was in school (engineering), I would not have counted anything I read for school as "reading a book" (it was merely schoolwork), and I did not read for pleasure during the term, except perhaps in the first two weeks. University was the time in my life when I read the least, by far, due to lack of free time.

Six Alaric
09-22-2012, 01:34 AM
It seems to me that most young adults (18-30) are watching TV several hours a day, but have not picked up a book in years. They go out drinking, play XBOX, watch movies and reality shows, and talk about fantasy football. They might spend an hour a day reading Facebook, but not a book.

There certainly are people who stubbornly refuse to read books but I don't think that's exclusive to this age range.

My observation and opinion (as someone in his early twenties): avid readers are atypical but still more common than people who don't read at all. The majority of people around my age that I know do read, but they're more likely to pick up books they've heard about rather than go seeking out new authors or looking at new genres. It's a casual interest but it's still an interest.

Reading co-exists peacefully with all the gaming and film-watching - books haven't been smothered by their alternatives. If anything, other media actually encourages more reading as far as I can tell - for example, there's a frequent pattern along the lines of: person watches Twilight > person reads book of Twilight > person goes looking for more paranormal romance/vampire books.

(Okay, Twilight was a book before it was a film but hopefully the point I'm trying to explain still sort of makes sense.)

itsmary
09-22-2012, 04:29 AM
I'm in the age range you're referring to (18-30). I've been a regular reader since I was a teenager, and a lot of my friends have been too. And of all the people I know who say they don't like to read, at least half of them will pick up a book (and finish it!) if it piques their interest enough. So yes, I'd say that young people are definitely reading.

DancingMaenid
09-22-2012, 04:45 AM
It seems to me that most young adults (18-30) are watching TV several hours a day, but have not picked up a book in years. They go out drinking, play XBOX, watch movies and reality shows, and talk about fantasy football. They might spend an hour a day reading Facebook, but not a book. Reality shows like Jersey Shore will get 6 million viewers, but a great book that can improve your life will only sell 100,000 copies.

I don't know what's common, but I do know that young adults differ in their interests as much as anyone else does. I'm in your age range (24) and I watch about five hours of television a week, I never drink, I don't own an XBOX, and rarely watch reality shows. I'm on Facebook for a few minutes a week, if that. I do watch a lot of movies, but it's also a fairly major hobby of mine. I love cinema, and my dream is to work either in the entertainment industry or in entertainment journalism.

In short, young adults are unique. All of my friends in my age range are unique and have their own interests and priorities.

I do read when I can. I enjoy it as a rule. What interferes with my ability to read for pleasure is mainly that I'm in college right now and am reading a lot for my classes. So I'm reading a lot, but reading for fun is something I don't have a ton of time or energy for. And that's increased my interest in film somewhat since it's something I can enjoy in my spare time more easily.


Bookstores are getting tougher to find, but there is no shortage of places to buy the latest Call of Duty for your PS3.

Actually, I disagree with this. Video games are easy to find in stores if you're looking for a new release for a console that's a recent, popular model. I have a lot better luck finding books in bookstores than I do finding video games and DVDs, even in specialty stores like Best Buy. Best Buy used to carry a wide selection of movies and TV shows. Now, the one by me carries very little. I recently wanted to get a game for my Wii that came out a couple years ago, and no store had it new anymore. I ended up getting it used at GameStop, but I had to go to three different locations before I could even find it there.

Brick and mortar stores, period, are struggling. In this economy, a lot of stores have cut back drastically on their stock. Online retailers like Amazon are largely to blame, too. Bookstores have been hit hard, but electronics retailers have been hit, too.


To clarify something: In the world of publishing, the term 'young adult' has a very explicit meaning that is not '18-30'. 'Young adult' in publishing means 'teenagers'. That's why several of your responses have been about teenagers.

And actually, I read a lot more as a teen than I do now. I had more time and fewer commitments.

LindaJeanne
09-22-2012, 04:55 AM
I think that particular complaint has probably been around since we learned to walk upright. To my horror, I've even been guilty of starting to think it myself on occasion. (Then I remind myself that my parents' generation was thinking exactly the same thing about ME!)

I think that part of this comes from the fact that we all judge our own generation by ourselves, and the people that we spent the most time around, related to the most, and were most like us.

But then not being on the "inside" of subsequent generations, we judge them based on the individuals that stand out the most from the outside (which, in practice, usually means the ones that get on our nerves the most.)

Apples and oranges. Of course the latter will never measure up to the former.

As to the original question, "do {insert any broad group consisting of millions of individuals} read?" the answer will always be: some do, some don't.

blueobsidian
09-22-2012, 05:00 AM
When I was in school (engineering), I would not have counted anything I read for school as "reading a book" (it was merely schoolwork), and I did not read for pleasure during the term, except perhaps in the first two weeks. University was the time in my life when I read the least, by far, due to lack of free time.

I definitely agree with this. I attended law school, where there are constant reading assignments and massive textbooks. However, if someone had asked me if I was reading a book at any given point, I wouldn't have counted those. To me, that was completing my assignments, not "reading a book" (particularly since many/most textbooks aren't read cover to cover in school).

DragonHeart
09-22-2012, 06:30 AM
I third LJD. I don't count textbooks as reading. Not because it isn't but because it's not something I am reading by choice, for myself. I count it as homework and I bet most students do too. I do count the novels and other non-textbook reading I am assigned, but only because as it happens, so far I've enjoyed all of them so it was a win-win.

Now, if I was reading a textbook for myself and not assigned for a class, I would totally count it.

strictlytopsecret
09-22-2012, 06:44 AM
The gallup poll question was "Do you happen to be reading any books or novels at present?" .

From my perspective, reading a book is reading a book (fiction, non-fiction, assigned, not assigned). If the questioner didn't ask me why I was reading it, I would assume the impetus wasn't of as much interest to them as whether or not I was reading.

Though I rarely read non-assigned material during undergrad or grad school, I did read a great many books, and my answer to their question would have been an unqualified "yes" during those years.

It's interesting how differently people think about this!

~STS~

chicgeek
09-22-2012, 06:57 AM
I think it's tough to compare the young adults of today to the young adults of the past, when there are just so many more forms of entertainment available.

Personally, I've been reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy since I was a child (and even before that, my father read to me), and I'm still an avid reader, now, at 23. Basically all of my friends love to read as well (many of them are hardcore gamers, too). But that could be due in large part to the fact that I tend to ignore anyone who tells me "I don't like to read". Biased, I know. :tongue

Debio
09-22-2012, 07:38 AM
I'm in my forties and I can't remember a time that the topic of "young people aren't reading as much as they used to" wasn't being debated.

Yes, there are people who don't read, lots of them. But there are lots of others who read voraciously. I would read a lot more. But I live in Japan and I have to order most of my books from abroad, adding a $5 charge per book to ship them to me cuts a big dent in my orders.

Even so, and even with my lack of time (I have a three year old who loves playing with papa), I manage to read 2 or 3 books a month. Mostly re-reads, I really need to make a new order.

It really depends on who you are hanging around with. I talk about my reading a lot, but that is mostly because I'm a teacher and I try to encourage my students to read as a way to broaden their language skills.

DancingMaenid
09-22-2012, 09:32 AM
On the topic of reading for school, I don't count textbooks. If someone asked if I was reading something right now, I doubt I'd respond that I was reading a textbook.

But on the other hand, I've taken a lot of literature courses, so I read a lot of fiction for school, including some contemporary novels. While I don't group that in the same category as reading for enjoyment, I'm more likely to count it as reading.

fredXgeorge
09-22-2012, 01:44 PM
I'm in my forties and I can't remember a time that the topic of "young people aren't reading as much as they used to" wasn't being debated.

Yes, there are people who don't read, lots of them. But there are lots of others who read voraciously. I would read a lot more. But I live in Japan and I have to order most of my books from abroad, adding a $5 charge per book to ship them to me cuts a big dent in my orders.

Even so, and even with my lack of time (I have a three year old who loves playing with papa), I manage to read 2 or 3 books a month. Mostly re-reads, I really need to make a new order.

It really depends on who you are hanging around with. I talk about my reading a lot, but that is mostly because I'm a teacher and I try to encourage my students to read as a way to broaden their language skills.
The Book Depository ships to Japan for free

Lidiya
09-22-2012, 02:03 PM
Since I'm a young adult, I think I know what young adults are like these days.
We were in some class at school, and the teacher was asking everyone how many books they had read in their lives. One girl said she hadn't read a single one. Another boy said he'd only read the ones we're made to read in class.
That class were in was a gifted and talented class (yeah damn right -- not a single person looked gifted or talented).

I read a lot, so I'm kind of different from the others, but it's kind of scary how sometimes in class when we're asked to read, some people can't even read (and they're about 15).

strictlytopsecret
09-22-2012, 10:56 PM
A great study by the National Endowment for the Arts can be accessed here: http://www.nea.gov/research/toread.pdf

It's difficult to argue with hard data. A couple of sobering points:


52% of 18-24 year old respondents read a book for pleasure (down 12% from the preceding decade)
59% of 25-34 year old respondents read a book for pleasure (down 8% from the preceding decade)

From the article "Teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time when compared
with other age groups and with Americans of the past."

Another quote from this article echoes Lidiya's observation above "The percentage of 17-year-olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has
doubled over a 20-year period."

Perhaps even more disturbing, this data is a decade old now -- the situation may have worsened if the trend continued.

Interesting topic.

~STS~

RookieWriter
09-23-2012, 03:05 AM
When I was in school (engineering), I would not have counted anything I read for school as "reading a book" (it was merely schoolwork), and I did not read for pleasure during the term, except perhaps in the first two weeks. University was the time in my life when I read the least, by far, due to lack of free time.

We agree on something! That we don't count reading a textbook as "reading a book" because it's schoolwork. The exception to this is a book assignment for the class, such as when I read 1776 by David McCullough for American History. It's not a textbook but the reading was required, so it was schoolwork. As a current college student, I look at your approach as a good one when it comes to reading for pleasure.

RookieWriter
09-23-2012, 03:16 AM
A great study by the National Endowment for the Arts can be accessed here: http://www.nea.gov/research/toread.pdf

It's difficult to argue with hard data. A couple of sobering points:


52% of 18-24 year old respondents read a book for pleasure (down 12% from the preceding decade)
59% of 25-34 year old respondents read a book for pleasure (down 8% from the preceding decade)

From the article "Teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time when compared
with other age groups and with Americans of the past."

Another quote from this article echoes Lidiya's observation above "The percentage of 17-year-olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has
doubled over a 20-year period."

Perhaps even more disturbing, this data is a decade old now -- the situation may have worsened if the trend continued.

Interesting topic.

~STS~

I wasn't aware of these stats, thanks for posting them.

In America we have a lot more options for entertainment now that we did 20 years ago. Many young adults and teens seem to be addicted to the internet (myself included) and with the ability to carry the internet on your cell phone, ipad, ect, it becomes something to do anywhere. Attention spans seem to be shorter now than they used to as well. We live in a society where many people are looking for instant gratification. Reading is something that can be time consuming, and I feel many people, of all ages, don't have the patience to read a 400+ page novel when they can watch the movie in 90 minutes.

Sunflowerrei
09-23-2012, 03:24 AM
I fall in the 25-34 range. I read quite a bit. I don't play video games. I don't watch a ton of TV. I suppose I read less than I did when I was younger and still being forced to read stuff for school, but the great majority of my time is taken up by writing. Most of my friends are big readers as well. We trade books back and forth. I force books on them. One of them told me she's reading more than ever now that she has a Kindle and a commute.

I can't vouch for teenagers, but I know that my 17-year-old cousin is a reader as well as a TV addict, while the just turned 20-year-old doesn't read very much.

RookieWriter
09-23-2012, 03:31 AM
Since I'm a young adult, I think I know what young adults are like these days.
We were in some class at school, and the teacher was asking everyone how many books they had read in their lives. One girl said she hadn't read a single one. Another boy said he'd only read the ones we're made to read in class.
That class were in was a gifted and talented class (yeah damn right -- not a single person looked gifted or talented).

I read a lot, so I'm kind of different from the others, but it's kind of scary how sometimes in class when we're asked to read, some people can't even read (and they're about 15).

It's sad, but this doesn't surprise me. A lot of the blame needs to go on the education system.

I just finished reading this report from 2007: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/11/19/young_people_reading_a_lot_less/?page=full

buz
09-23-2012, 04:13 AM
It's sad, but this doesn't surprise me. A lot of the blame needs to go on the education system.


Dunno. The education system didn't teach me to read (it didn't need to; I was reading before I entered it) and it certainly didn't motivate me to read for pleasure--although it may have improved my command of the language.

That was my parents. And, I guess, my nature, since my brother and sister didn't pick up the same reading habit I did.

Blame almost never belongs entirely to a single entity. I'm not saying the education system isn't crap, because in many ways it is, but it's not the only influence in people's lives.

LJD
09-23-2012, 04:59 AM
It's sad, but this doesn't surprise me. A lot of the blame needs to go on the education system.

I just finished reading this report from 2007: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/11/19/young_people_reading_a_lot_less/?page=full

I'd blame the education system for nearly killing my love of reading...by making me read things I hated and then analyzing them to death...

OK, after reading some of the links, I am convinced that reading has declined somewhat among young people, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still lots and lots of young people who read.

Maxinquaye
09-24-2012, 02:23 AM
I have noticed that TV is more of a baby boomer medium. Young kids, like my nephew, may have the telly on - but they don't sit down and watch it like I used to when I was a kid.

They have so many competing forms of media that are much more fun than sitting still and watching the dumb-tube. Computer games, for instance. Teens and younger adults read more than you and I did at that age. Only they read phones, ipods, ipads, computer screens, and so on.

The "teenagers don't read" is a fundamental misunderstanding of most teens' life. Or younger adults. They just don't consume media like we used to do, and there's nothing wrong with that.

B.G. Dobbins
09-24-2012, 03:58 AM
I am 20, and I certainly do many of those things you mention, though I am not big on reality TV. However, I also read a great bit, as well. Looking at many of my peers, I think they do not read enough voluntarily as opposed to material they are required to read for coursework and such, but they do read. As an English major, I find more students from my core courses that enjoy reading for leisure more the Gen Ed courses. As for high school and younger, many students read a good deal when I was in high school compared to popular belief. It has only been a few years, so I wouldn't assume things have changed too much.

Griffinvw
09-24-2012, 09:47 PM
I'm 24, and have been reading for pleasure since I was old enough to pick out books. It might be due to my parents reading to me every night or just the way I am but I'll. always pick a book over tv, movies, etc. As far as others in my age range I've known extremes on both sides. The biggest thing I've found with young adults and teens who don't read is they haven't found that one book or series to fall in love with. I think sometimes it takes finding that emotional connection with a character or book to truly appreciate the joys of reading. Just a thought.