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Dave Swindle


April 7, 2012 - 6:19 am

From the Atlantic, a Gallup poll indicating the rise in reading rates over the last half century:

How about that superfluous “at present” tacked on at the end of the question? Doesn’t that suggest they haven’t changed the question since they started asking it generations ago?

Another worthwhile nugget from the survey:

People following current events are also more likely to read books. The poll included questions on the U.S. Senate filibuster and on stem cell research. The more people were paying attention to either issue, the more likely they were also to be reading a book. For example, among people who were following the controversy over the U.S. Senate filibuster “very closely,” 64% were reading a book, compared with 55% among people following the controversy “somewhat closely” and just 39% among people not following the issue closely. The same pattern was also evident by how closely people were following the issue of stem cell research.

Related: Over at PJ Tatler I blog each morning about the intersection of political books and current events. I’m on part 16 of an analysis of Derrick Bell’s Afrolantica Legacies, each day relating the book’s Critical Race Theory themes to current events in order to demonstrate how political culture transforms into real life action.

Ideas have consequences. And as that blue bar in the chart rises and e-readers make books even more accessible, the more pressing question will not be how many people are reading, but what ideas fill their heads? Today would be a different world if in 1990 Barack Obama had “opened his heart and mind” to the words of Thomas Sowell instead of Derrick Bell.

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.
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