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You Are What You Read

I’m no Art Garfunkel, but I have been keeping track of my reading over the last couple of years. Just for kicks, you understand.

At first I was a little disappointed: I read 24 books in 2020, 27 in 2021, and am currently on track to read 32 this year. It doesn’t sound like a lot. Yet apparently I’m some sort of superhuman super-reader, since the average American adult reads fewer than 13. One in six doesn’t even read a single book over the course of a year.

What are y’all doing in your spare time? No, really. Most of us read around 300 words per minute. The average novel runs somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000 to 100,000 words. Which means all you’ve got to do to beat the average is read 12 minutes a day.

Hell, at that rate you could read through the entire Harry Potter corpus in a year—and still have time for The Chronicles of Narnia.

I’m not convinced that more people reading more books is going to solve all our problems or anything like that; I’m just surprised that such a low-barrier pastime—one with fairly well-documented benefits (not to mention, you know…pleasure)—doesn’t get more love these days.

@#$%! social media, probably.



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