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5 Things We Know About People Who Read Books for Pleasure

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Reading. We all do it. Some of us force ourselves to read, seeking to learn computer programming, or whatever the latest skill is. Others flick through a novel when we’ve nothing better to do. But there are also those of us who read for pleasure… like the team here at Wordcatcher. Earlier this year, Arts Council England commissioned a report into that elite group, collating the best research around. Here, we present their five key findings.

1. 63% of us read for pleasure

Not such an exclusive crowd after all! However, while this 2017/18 figure might seem like a lot, it’s actually down on the 68% of us who read for pleasure in 2012/13. What’s more, to be included in this data, you only had to read one book by choice in a given year. It’s clear we still have a long way to go. Then again, maybe where you live is in better shape. The data only covers England.

2. 10% of us are heavy readers of fiction

An elite within an elite! The Arts Council identified research by Nielsen which found 10% of adults are what they call ‘heavy’ readers of fiction. To qualify as a heavy reader, you need to have read at least 16 books in a given year. Perhaps something to aspire to?

3. Older women are most likely to be heavy readers

That same Nielsen survey found that older women are the most avid readers of fiction. As of 2018, a whole 19% of women aged between 55 and 84 read at least 16 works of fiction every year. Disappointingly, there don’t appear to be figures for the non-binary community, but it’s clear that us men are letting the side down!

An older woman reading a book on a park bench
An older woman reading a book on a park bench. Photo credit: Alex Blăjan

4. Unsurprisingly, heavy readers are big fans of the arts

When you’re an avid reader, your thirst for new cultural experiences is insatiable. While you wish John F. Wake’s Horrors of the Dead House went on forever, the sad truth is that nothing can. That’s why, sticking with the Nielsen data, a hefty 47% of heavy readers have visited a gallery or museum in the past year, compared to 34% of readers in general.

5. We read to relax

The Arts Council noted the real lack of research on just why people find reading pleasurable. That said, they located some preliminary data from Demos, who discovered that 46% of us find that reading helps relax us. This greatly outweighs the 10% who somehow found that social media helps them get their chill on! In this coronavirus era, sources of relaxation have become more important than ever, so we are thrilled to be able to include this on our list.

How much do you read? Why do you read? We’d love to know. The new year is fast approaching, so we hope you’ll make a last minute dash for that crucial number 16. After all, there’s nothing better than the smell of a freshly printed book.

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5 Things We Know About People Who Read Books for Pleasure

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