Why do we read? A simple Google search yields dozens of reasons: for pleasure, for work, for school; to gather information, to gain understanding, to increase knowledge; because it’s fun, because it’s challenging, “because my teacher makes me.”
If you’re reading solely for work or school, then what you’re reading is likely required. You may not have a choice of texts, and understanding it fully is probably very important. You may or may not like reading.
If you do like reading, however, you are one of between 80 and 90 percent of the population*
who reads for pleasure at least occasionally. And people who read for pleasure read for all kinds of reasons, too. This word cloud, produced by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
, summarizes them nicely:
The Pew study
mentions other data about our reading habits, including the fact that fewer people are reading now than in 1978. In the US and in Canada, too, e-reader and e-book sales may be helping to slow this trend. In both countries, sales have increased in the past year.
You may enjoy reading a variety of texts — fiction, poetry, memoir and news stories — or you may prefer to stick to one genre. Men, for instance, tend to prefer non-fiction over fiction by a wide margin; women are big consumers of fiction.
Whatever your preferences, chances are you adopt a different reading strategy depending on whether the text is a scientific article, a short story, or a personal essay. Check this blog for tips about how to approach specific kinds of texts. You may find ways to enjoy reading even more.
*Current data on the percentage of people who read for pleasure is difficult to find. A 2005 Canadian study says that 87 percent of people 16 and over read a book for pleasure in the last year. A similar American study from 2007 indicates that 80 percent read at least sometimes for pleasure. Some studies count book sales as an indicator of reading rates, others focus on literacy and test performance, and others still on specific genres, such as fiction, poetry or news stories.