Truth is Stranger than Fiction: Americans Say They Still Love to Read

One of the aspects of the RenGen: Renaissance Generation, that I get a lot questions about is their appreciation for reading as a leisure activity. I think people have gotten confused by mixed information. For example, during the Bush administration the NEA produced reports saying Americans are not reading, and in particular they’re not reading the classics.

A new Harris Poll confirms that Americans still say they love to read for pleasure. It ranked at the top of the list, in fact. As for the classics, neither Harris’ research nor mine ever asked people to reveal what they read for pleasure. My hunch is that the NEA had that part right, but it’s also a values-laden point of query.

The bad news in the report is that American’s leisure time continues to erode. We are now down to 10 hours per week to call our own, compared to 26 in 1973. No wonder the RenGen have expectations that their work must be fulfilling and tap their creative talents. If you are spending 50-60 hours a week at a job…you’d better feel engaged!

Top 5 Favorite Leisure-Time Activities (% of Respondents, Unaided Responses)

Television watching
Family time
Computer activities

Source: Harris Poll, October 2008

Photo courtesy of Mozida