It seems lately that all I ever get around to posting about is the books I’m reading. I do run across other things of interest that I think would be fun to mention here, but I rarely find myself motivated enough to spend a few minutes writing about them. Here’s an exception, of a sort. It’s still about books, but not about books that I myself have read.
The National Endowment for the Arts did a study on the reading of “literature” by Americans. (The study itself can be found here.) My primary problem is their use of the word “literature”. They explained their usage thus:
The 2002 SPPA asked respondents if, during the past 12 months, they had read any novels or short stories, plays, or poetry. A positive response to any of those three categories is counted as reading literature, including popular genres such as mysteries, as well as contemporary and classic literary fiction. No distinctions were drawn on the quality of literary works.
While I can understand why one would not want to try and draw distinctions between the quality of different works for the purposes of this study (the amount of extra work would be insurmountable and the conclusions drawn could the work be done would be debated endlessly), continuing to use the word “literature” is a bit deceptive since it has the very positive connotation of being a work of lasting quality. Since what was being included was essentially all fiction, it would have been less deceptive to have used “fiction” to cover to what they refer.
Also, if anyone is interested enough to read parts of that study, they do sometimes also include data inquiring about reading books in general; that is to say, they include non-fiction as well in some of their questions.