NEA Study — Just Poor Timing?

I just wanted to do a Friday shout out to Richard Reyes-Gavilan, for making one of the best points I’ve heard about the N.E.A. report on the decline in reading of creative literature in America. In response to the New Yorker two-part series “Twilight of the Books,” he points out that the survey was conducted in August, 2002; “Speaking for myself — and countless readers at the New York Public Library, where I worked at the time — the twelve-month period beginning in September, 2001, was not a particularly good one by which to measure reading habits.” He quotes Ian McEwan, who said that post-September 11th, he found it “wearisome to confront invented characters.” (The study only reported on “literary reading” which excludes nonfiction).

Naively, after the N.E.A report, “Reading at Risk” was published, I thought it was counterproductive to argue with the results. Surely, pointing out this “national crisis” would bring a multitude of efforts to solve the problem? The NEA created “The Big Read.” And, on the other hand, we get responses like Steve Jobs casually declaring the Kindle a failure because “people don’t read anyway.” Thanks, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, for standing up for readers.

One Response to “NEA Study — Just Poor Timing?”

  1. Robin Says:

    I agree – there are plenty of readers out there! We see it all of the time here in Columbus – big holds lists, print circ up 8%. Not sure what they are surveying but I think it needs to be a little broader. The first NEA study didn’t count NF reading which seems like an oversight to me.