With the commencement of a brand new year, I set out once again reaching for what I’ve established as my personal baseline figure for books to read over a twelve-month period. While far from being scientific, I arrived at my number of books to read per month, and in the course of setting the bar, I learned that I’m way above the average number of books read annually by almost all other Americans. I now believe that doing so keeps me sharper (I think) than less ambitious types.
As it shakes out, my bedrock number of 36 books read is triple the U.S. average, at least according to Pew Research, my researcher of choice in this matter. The “average American” in the U.S. reads 12 books per year. That’s a paltry number, but it’s the average. That means many of the people you work with and interact with read a lot less than that.
My wife reads a lot of books. My son once more hit a reading number that dwarfs my own 2015 total of 53 books, which exceeded my goal for the year, but fell short of last year’s total of 66.
Previous end-of-year book summaries also served as attempts at advocacy, citing the benefits of being a reader. Two would be broadening your awareness and increasing knowledge. But I have to remind myself periodically that we live in a time when ignorance trumps all else—most wouldn’t consider broadness an asset—and they wear ignorance like a coat of arms.
Not only are Americans light readers, I’d go one step further—if they do read anything at all, their tendency is towards books offering cover and validation to their views on politics, culture, and any other subject that they have an awareness about. Or, they read simply for pleasure and escape. I get that and I’m not opposed. Miss Mary is a reading-for-pleasure kind of girl.
My 2015 reading list seems a bit more pell-mell than some of my previous ones. Scroll down and take a look back at 2013 and 2014, and you be the judge.
John Gould and a few other books from 2015.