Do You Read More Books Per Year Than the Average American?

Are you above average when it comes to hitting the stacks?

woman reading bookKimSongsak/Shutterstock

You probably have a stack of books on your bedside table right now, right? Maybe it includes some of these books you need to read before you watch the movie or books everyone lies about reading, books that you tell yourself you’ll get to eventually. But how many books do you actually end up finishing over the course of a year?

If the answer is not very many, you’re not alone. According to Pew Research Center, about 25 percent of American adults said they haven’t read a book in the last year in any form. So no print books, no eBooks, not even an audiobook in the car. And it seems the older generation is more affected than the younger one: 28 percent of adults over 50 said they hadn’t read a book in the past year, while only 20 percent of adults under 50 could say the same.

But news remains positive for bookworms who hope reading stays trendy: Another Pew report shows that about 75 percent of Americans said they have read a book in the past 12 months. When you add up all the books Americans have read over the course of a year, it comes to an average of 12 books a year per reader. However, this accounts for people who read a little more than normal; most Americans read about four books a year.

How are these books getting read? The study shows Americans still prefer print books over audio or eBooks with almost 40 percent of adults sticking exclusively to print. Want to beat the average? Consider starting with the highest-rated books on Goodreads.

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Erin Kayata
Erin Kayata joined Reader’s Digest as an assistant staff writer in March 2019, coming from the Stamford Advocate where she covered education. Prior to this, she was part of a two-year Hearst fellowship program where she covered crime and education in suburban Connecticut. She graduated from Emerson College and spent part of her undergraduate career writing for the Boston Globe. When she’s not writing articles about useful facts and pop culture, you can find Erin enjoying the local theater scene and working toward her goal of reading 50 books a year.