Skip to main content

Americans who haven't read a book in a year have a lot in common

About a quarter of American adults haven't read a book in a year - who are they?
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

It's a question you might be asked on a first date or during a job interview: What's the last book you read?

And it might be a hard one to answer for about a quarter of American adults who haven't read a book in a year - a statistic Pew Research Center discovered earlier this year. Their survey showed that 65 percent of Americans have read a print book in the last year, 28 percent have read an e-book, and 14 percent have listened to audio books.

But 26 percent haven't read a book in any form in a year. So who reads and who doesn't?

Pew conducted another survey to find out. Here's what they found...

Non-book readers have a lot in common

Survey results show that non-book readers share several demographic traits, Pew says.

For example, adults who have a high school degree or less are three times more likely (40 percent vs. 13 percent) than college graduates to not read anything in the past year. Pew speculates part of the reason is that less-educated adults are also the least likely to own smartphones or tablets - a format that readers are using at an increasing rate.

Another characteristic of non-book readers is their income: adults who make less than $30,000 a year are twice as likely to be non-book readers.

And when it comes to age, older Americans don't read as much - 29 percent of adults ages 50 and older have not read a book in the past year, compared with 23 percent of adults under 50.

A few more traits:

  • Hispanic adults are almost twice as likely as whites (40 percent vs. 23 percent ) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months.
  • Men are less likely than women to have read a book in a year.
  • Adults in rural areas are less likely to have read compared with those in urban areas.

And they aren't going to the library

If books aren't really a part of your life, then it makes sense that you wouldn't be visiting libraries either.

Men, Hispanics, older adults, those living in households earning less than $30,000 and those who have no more than a high school diploma or did not graduate from high school are the most likely to report they have never been to a public library.

Pew said the number of Americans who haven't read a book in a year hasn't really changed much since 2012, but is slightly higher than 2011, when they first started surveying book-reading habits.

Next Up

Hopkins Basketball

Hopkins suffers rare loss to No. 1 ranked Sidwell Friends

The Royals held their own in a battle of the nation's best.

argue-wertman booking photos

Charges: 2 teens responsible for violent carjacking spree across Twin Cities

They face a combined 31 felony counts, all tied to carjackings and related crimes.

rep nolan west mn house

MN rep. says he was 'assaulted' at activist group's public meeting

The Republican said a man grabbed his arms and yanked him from the room.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 12.56.52 PM

What were the 'bizarre things' seen in Minnesota's sky?

The mysterious streaks were not UFOs and they weren't pieces of an asteroid.

icicles, freezing weather, cold weather

Booming noises in the night could be frost quakes

The loud sounds are most likely to happen during the middle of the night.

coronavirus, coronavirus test, covid-19

Free COVID testing site to open in St. Paul for 3 weeks

The federal testing site comes as demand for testing remains high.

Reyel Simmons photo 1 - complaint - crop

MN TikToker accused of faking federal agent life pleads guilty

He told his 10,000 followers he was a Homeland Security agent — authorities say it was a lie.

Wilf

Report: Vikings request second interview with 2 GM candidates

Ryan Poles of the Chiefs and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Browns.

Amaya Battle

Hopkins takes on No. 1 team in the country on ESPNU Friday

The game will feature a pair of top recruits in the Class of 2022.

st. paul federation of educators - teachers

Educators in Minneapolis, St. Paul could strike amid contract negotiations

Teachers and support staff are demanding smaller class sizes, mental health support and better pay.

turtinen two harbors

MN mayor in hot water for hawking $400M underwater hotel plan

The city council called a special meeting to discuss the mayor's public comments.

Related

Americans who haven't read a book in a year have a lot in common

About a quarter of American adults haven't read a book in a year - who are they?

Looking for a new read? Here are the Minnesota Book Award winners

Looking for a new read? Here's the best in Minnesota literature.

These are the finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards

There are 36 finalists competing in nine categories.

These are the finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards

There are 36 finalists competing in nine categories.

New study finds Minneapolis and St. Paul among the most literate U.S. cities

Whether they are reading in a park or reading to find an escape from cabin fever – Minnesotans like to read.

New study finds Minneapolis and St. Paul among the most literate U.S. cities

Whether they are reading in a park or reading to find an escape from cabin fever – Minnesotans like to read.

Here are the 10 most-complained-about books in libraries

Most of these books were challenged for having themes deemed inappropriate for kids.

Here are the 10 most-complained-about books in libraries

Most of these books were challenged for having themes deemed inappropriate for kids.