Highlights from the 2013 reader survey of over 2000 participants plus a link to the full report. This was the second reader survey I conducted. There are surveys from 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018 as well as a survey of WWI reading conducted in 2017.
Today I’ve assembled a group of readers’ perspectives on the power of fiction. In a future post, I’ll include comments from readers who are also authors. Please add your thoughts to the discussion!
Mary Ann who is 58 and has lived in different parts of the world:The power of fiction, in my opinion, is that no matter what kind of day I’m having or what other concerns I may have, I can always pick up a book and if the author does a good job, be whisked away into another person’s world. I can vanish for as long as I care to and know that when I have to return to everyday life, my book friends are still waiting.
Anne from Yorkshire, UK reads more than 350 books a year: Without question it is escape. I live other lives and experience so many things that are not part of my life and which allow me to escape from my own life –not that my own life is at all difficult.
Adam, a Canadian in his mid-thirties: The greatest power of fiction is to push the boundaries of the real to give the reader a chance to imagine. I suspect that creates real opportunities for empathy. It’s also a great diversion, and a way to portray ideal worlds, or worlds that are broken in specific ways.
Wendy who is from the UK and loves historical fiction: An ability to ‘escape’, if only briefly, from the day to day trials and tribulations. In my own case, the past five years have been the most stressful of my life. The hours I spent sitting by my husband’s bedside and then later when I had to come to terms with being alone after 43 years of marriage were only just bearable because I could lose myself in a book. In the case of my love of historical fiction – I am within travelling distance of so many wonderful historical sites and visiting them with my grandchildren is a great source of interest and delight.
Jane who is 75 and lives in Mexico: I think fiction allows us to experience what we have not personally lived, builds understanding, empathy, historical perspective, gives us pleasure and defeats loneliness.
Paul who is 48 and lives in Dorset: Fiction has the ability to tell the world of significant moments and peoples lives.
Joanne who lives in Essex, UK:Fiction allows the reader to travel to distant places, other time periods, imaginary worlds and all without leaving their own home. It can take your mind off your own troubles, make you laugh, cry and more.
Sarah who lives in California and has been in the tech industry as well as holding an MLIS: Fiction can take more risks because it’s not hinged on real world consequences or rules.
Mary, a 17-year-old from Australia: The power to forgot Earthly struggles once in a while and just read.
Pat who lives in the US and is addicted to books: A place to travel to other countries, eras, worlds (I do read some sci-fi), a way to relax, I love history and books take me back in time.
I’ve dug into responses from readers on the topic of why they are reading more or less than in the past. A little over 1000 people chose to comment on the topic. So here’s the original chart and a new chart showing reasons.
Are you reading more or fewer books than in the past:
Reasons for a change in reading habits:
By way of explanation (start at the top of chart and work clockwise):
Book Club – a number of readers said they are reading more because they’ve joined a book club.
E-books are easier – many readers are reading more because of e-readers AND audio books. A number of readers say they love audio books because they can read while doing something else.
Fewer good books – some read less because they find fewer good books to choose from
Life changes – sadly, some of these are readers are experiencing health problems that prevent them from reading as much as they did in the past.
More social media – these are readers who are spending time on social media instead of reading books.
More time/Retirement – relatively self explanatory except to say that many readers have more time because their children are getting older 🙂
Other options – these are readers who mentioned doing other activities that have displaced reading in the way they spend their time.
Review books – a number of readers are reviewing books and/or have started their own book blog and hence are reading more.
SM gives ideas – some readers mentioned social media facilitates reading as a source of book related information and recommendations
Too busy – many readers cite jobs and young children as a reason their reading is less than in the past
I don’t think there are too many surprises here although it’s interesting to see them categorized.
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