Bestselling novelist Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, Run) shares her talented pen with the Wall Street Journal in an essay that that helps celebrate something we’ve been hearing whispers about: reading fiction for fun is definitely on the rise. Says Patchett:
There will be those who attribute the rise in reading to our current decline of cash, and if that is actually the case I would at least be able to think I forfeited my retirement account to a worthy cause. It's true, as a source of entertainment reading ranks somewhere between cheap and free, depending on where you get your books. A movie can give you two hours of entertainment, but a book can go on for days or even weeks. My friend Lucy loved to point out that she started reading “War and Peace” on the first day of the first Gulf War and was still reading when the war was over.But the financial crunch isn’t all of it. As Patchett points out, the biggest reading bump has been seen in the 18-24-year old markets:
But doesn't it make sense? This is the first crop of newly minted adults who were raised up on Harry Potter novels. They came of age attending midnight release parties at their local bookstores and then faking mysterious illnesses the next day for the absolute necessity of staying in bed to read. Some of these children were lucky enough to have their Potter novels banned by witch-hunting school boards and micro-managing ministers. Is there any greater joy than a book you’re not allowed to read, a book you could go to hell for reading? When I was a child I had to make due with a purloined copy of “Valley of the Dolls” which I thought was forbidden because it was dirty and now know was forbidden because it was just so badly written.More joy: reading Patchett any ol’ way we can get her. There’s a lot more to this essay, and it’s here. Meanwhile, that National Endowment for the Arts report everyone keeps quoting is right here.