In the minority again

Our country is divided in so many ways; it’s not just political parties, belief in the Big Lie. Another way to make sense of Americans and America is by looking at Americans’ behavior: how they spend their time in activities: firearms, sports, screen time and maybe even reading. 

Reading habits and reading are two pleasures of mine. Curiosity and knowledge-seeking are the two chief drivers leading me to pick up magazines at doctor’s offices or look at the newspaper – any newspaper – or look up answers to questions on reference accounts on the Internet.  I read all kinds of content.  Some I browse and some I read every word slowly. 

Unfortunately, it appears Americans generally don’t read literary books or magazines.  In fact, over 21% of Americans are considered illiterate.  Americans don’t read much of anything and very little is read for fun.  Roughly a quarter of Americans (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25 – Feb 8, 2021.   The numbers of Americans who haven’t read a book in 2022 is the same as it was in 2014. It’s not much, but at least it hasn’t gotten worse. 

Americans still seem to get a lot of pleasure from watching TV. On average, that’s more than three hours of television watching each day. This is screen time that’s distinct from social media on their phones.

Non-book readers also seem to be people who don’t visit a library. If you’re one who hasn’t ever been to a library or have stayed away from your (free) public library of late, you won’t know that they’re much more than loaning books. Some public libraries loan sports equipment, household appliances and board games. Libraries have become gathering places for different groups: young mothers and their children, and for book clubs and folk music/entertainment, and book readings by local authors.

Americans may not like to read but they certainly like to buy firearms. There are 393 million privately owned firearms in the US.  Fully 32% of Americans say they personally own a firearm according to a recent National Firearms Survey. And they most likely keep the firearm in their home.  They don’t always lock them up either; often children in the home know where the firearms are kept, and whether they are locked up or not. Some of these children learn the facts the hard way: with their lives.

The last book I read was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garamus. Before reading “Chemistry” I started listening to Dead Wake: The Last Voyage of the Lusitania through a free account from my public library. I recommend both even though I never finished Dead Wake. 

Dead Wake is the true story about the sinking of the Lusitania, both enthralling and emotional with wonderful character development, detail and drama.   I’m an Erik Larsen groupie: anything by him is fascinating, well-researched. I’ve read or listened to The Devil in the White City, The Splendid and the Vile, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck too.   You know what you’re going to get with an Erik Larsen book as he’s a great storyteller.

Photo by Steve Johnson on

If you love books, and wish to be a part of a larger book community, I recommend Goodreads ( and/or Library Thing (www.library, two book communities that can help you find your next read or podcast. 

Photo by Life Of Pix on

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

2 thoughts on “In the minority again

  1. I “liked” this. Contrast between readers and shooters is— shall we say?— on target.
    I also like the 2 images….photo and painting.
    If you’re open to one editorial suggestion: maybe delete the sentence that says u didn’t finish Dead Wake. I find it odd that u recommend it— even rave about it— while also saying u didn’t finish it.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. I was able to rave about it because I was raving about Erik Larsen’s formulaic writing. I’l see if anyone else says the same thing.


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