Here is just over one hundred facts about books and reading. I could include more, but what I have here is a general picture of facts and benefits.
1. One in four adults have not read a book in the past year.
A 2007 AP-Ipsos poll found that a quarter of adults hadn’t read even one book in the past 12 months. Women and older adults were most likely to have read, with religious works and fiction the most popular choices.
2. Just 36% of students in the eighth grade read at a proficient level.
The 2013 Nation’s Report Card notes a slight improvement over 2011 levels. “Proficient” means the students “demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter.”
3. Forty-three percent of adults—93 million Americans—scored in the two lowest literacy levels.
The 2002 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found notable improvement over 1992 levels in “quantitative literacy”—the skills used to leave a tip at a restaurant or fill out an order form. However, levels for skills like reading a newspaper or drug labels remained largely unchanged.
4. Of the adults with the lowest literacy skills, 55% had annual household incomes below $20,000.
As might be expected, the study found that, as literacy increased, so did the likelihood of greater household incomes.
5. Of the 1.4 million Americans in prison at the time of the 2002 NAAL, 56% scored in the two lowest literacy levels. Only a fraction, roughly 3%, scored at the highest level of literacy.
6. Reading enjoyment declines after age eight.
A survey by Scholastic called The State of Kids & Reading found that competing interests dug into reading time as kids grow older, and many found other activities more fun.
7. One hour of study per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in seven years.
So said motivational speaker Earl Nightingale.
8. Employers rank reading and writing as top deficiencies in new hires.
A survey by The National Endowment for the Arts found written communications at the top of the list of skills employers found lacking in high school and college graduates.
9. Readers help to enrich cultural and civic life.
Likely to vote and exercise.
The same NEA survey shows that literary readers are three times as likely as non-readers to visit museums, attend plays, or create their own art.
A study by the National Endowment for the arts concluded that reading makes you more engaged throughout life, taking advantage of any activities that may spring up during your life.
10. Readers make good citizens.
The NEA survey notes that readers are more likely to do volunteer work.
11. Reading fiction improves empathy.
A study out of the University of Buffalo found that “belonging to fictional communities actually provided the same mood and life satisfaction people get from real-life affiliations.” It also helps you to empathize with people, by understanding different cultures.
12. Reading makes you sexy.
A study done at Northwestern University found that intelligence is one of the most attractive qualities to women—and reading is a great way to increase intelligence. So, the more you read, the more appealing you will become!
13. Reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s.
A recent study found that people who read are two and a half times less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Syndrome later on in life. Although this does not mean that reading will prevent the disease, it proves a slight relationship between reading and prevention.
14. Being a reader means you’re more likely to learn something new every day.
An education professor, Anne E. Cunningham wrote a research paper and discovered that reading frequently does actually make you smarter. Not only does it help you retain knowledge, but it helps you to remember that knowledge later on in life.
15. Reading can be therapeutic.
According to Cristel Russell, a behavioral researcher, reading can help with any stress or turmoil occurring in your life. If you’re going through a break-up, or simply just need to relax, try a new book.
16. Reading enhances your memory.
Every time you read something new, your brain ‘makes room’ to fit it in. With these new spaces, you can take advantage of any new information that may arise.
17. Reading helps to boost your analytical thinking.
Reading helps you to recognize various patterns that occur in writing. If you are looking for a law or medicine career, this is important!
18. Reading expands your vocabulary, so you’ll sound like a genius.
The more you read, the more words you will come across. The more often you read these words, the more likely you are to understand them, and use them in your own writing and speaking.
19. People who read are more likely to get ahead when it comes to their careers, and life in general.
Honor Wilson-Fletcher said that reading “opens doors and makes life easier, so at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you read. What’s more, it really can make you feel good!” This is very true, and it outlines how important it is to read, if you want to live a successful life.
20. There are over 129 million books in existence.
According to Google, 129,864,880 million books had been published as of 2010. That number is obviously a lot higher now.
21. The most expensive book ever purchased was sold for $30.8 million.
It was Codex Leicester by Leonardo Da Vinci, and it was purchased by Bill Gates, according to Business Insider. Don’t worry though, he probably made the money back within the hour.
22. There’s a word for loving the smell of old books.
You guys, you know you love the smell of old books. They have the aroma of dust and a whole lot of history. Well now you can call it something. “Bibliosmia” is the word you’ve probably been searching for your whole life.
23. The longest sentence ever printed is 823 words.
We have a feeling it’s probably a run-on, but it’s a legit sentence that exists in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, according to Barnes and Noble.
24. Author’s names didn’t used to be printed on the covers of their books.
The covers of the first printed books were considered artworks. They were covered in drawings, leather and even gold — so there wasn’t a place for the author’s name.
25. The first book ever written using a typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Mark Twain must have had a lot of ink and a lot of patience.
26. President Theodore Roosevelt read one book per day.
Now that’s dedication to reading.
27. The three most read books in the world are…
The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and Harry Potter.
28. Icelandic people read more than anyone.
Perhaps it has to do with the weather, or maybe they’re just taught to really love books. Either way, Iceland for the win!
29. Alice in Wonderland is based on a real 10-year-old girl.
Her name was Alice Liddell, and her family was close friends with author Lewis Carroll. While on a boating trip, she asked him to tell her a story — and that’s how Alice was born.
30. Illiteracy is still a huge problem throughout the world.
One in five adults around the world can’t read or write, with the highest rates in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
31. Reading about yawning makes you yawn.
32. Books used to be shelved “backwards” with the spine facing the back of the shelf and the fore-edge facing out.
33. Research now indicates that the 4- to 6-year-old age range is the sweet spot for teaching reading. Beyond the age of 6 or 7, teaching a child to read is a game of catch up.
34. On average across the world people spend 6.5 hours a week reading.
35. According to a study from Yale University, three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school.
36. Dr. Seuss coined the word “nerd” in his 1950 book “If I Ran the Zoo.”
37. It takes an average of 475 hours to write a novel.
38. Books that were penned or conceived behind bars include Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes), Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan), De Profundis (Oscar Wilde), and the Prince (Machiavelli).
39. Books used to be chained to the bookshelves in libraries.
40. The ratio of customers to bookstores is highest in Nevada, Texas, and Mississippi.
41. On the average, a bookstore browser will spend eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds scanning the back cover.
42. Half of all books sold today are to people over the age of 45.
43. Adults who read literature on a regular basis are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to do volunteer or charity work, and over one-and-a-half times as likely to participate in sporting activities.
44. The largest advance ever paid for a self published book? A whopping $4.125 million. Simon & Schuster paid that for Richard Paul Evans’ The Christmas Box.
45. Women buy 68% of all books sold.
46. The page most readers lose interest at? Page 18!
47. A glimpse into the NASA library reveals astronauts’ preferred reading includes A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne, and London Bridges by James Patterson.
48. The longest reading aloud marathon by a team lasted 224 hours and was completed by Milton Nan, Silvina Carbone, Carlos Antón, Edit Díaz, Yolanda Baptista and Natalie Dantaz (all Uruguay) at Mac Center Shopping,Paysandú, Uruguay between September 13-22, 2007.
49. The Penguin paperback was created to make books as affordable as cigarettes, and the first Penguin paperbacks were distributed from a church crypt.
50. Nancy Pearl, in addition to being the most famous librarian in the world, is also now the only librarian to have an action figure created in her likeness.
51. Studies have shown that American children who learn to read by the third grade are less likely to end up in prison, drop out of school, or take drugs.
52. The 1930’s reading primer series Fun with Dick and Jane by Dr. William S. Gray is rumored to be plagiarized from Sir Fred Schonell’s similar Dick and Dora readers, found in his Happy Venture Playbooks.
53. It is estimated that limited literacy skills cost business and taxpayers $20 billion in lost wages, profits, and productivity annually.
54. A bibliokleptomaniac is someone who steals books. One of the most famous bibliokleptomaniacs is Stephen Blumberg, who stole more than 23,000 rare books from 268 libraries. He had various methods for acquiring his estimated 20 million dollar collection, including climbing through ventilation ducts and elevator shafts.
55. The term “bookworm” derives from tiny insects who feed on the binding of books.
56. Children who read books often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gain higher results in maths, vocabulary and spelling tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly.
57. Low levels of literacy cost the UK an estimated £81 billion a year in lost earnings and increased welfare spending, impacting on ‘the success of the economy as a whole’.
58. Per capita incomes are higher in countries where more adults reach the highest levels of literacy proficiency and fewer adults are at the lowest levels of literacy.
59. 16 year-olds who choose to read books for pleasure outside of school are more likely to secure managerial or professional jobs in later life.
60. In England and Northern Ireland the median hourly wage of workers with the highest levels of literacy is 94% higher than for workers who have the lowest levels of literacy.
61. Adults with lower levels of literacy are more likely to experience poor health and to believe that they have little impact on political processes, and are less likely to participate in volunteer activities.
62. Statistics from 2014 show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11.
63. Research conducted in 2012 found that 17% of 15 year-olds in England do not have a minimum level of proficiency in literacy.
64. Analysis conducted in 2013 found that in England 16 to 24 year-olds have lower levels of literacy than young people in 21 out of 24 countries in the OECD. Literacy levels are higher in Japan, Estonia, Czech Republic and the USA.
65. England is the only country where 16-24 year olds have lower literacy and numeracy skills than 55-65 year-olds, out of 24 OECD countries.
66. 16% of adults (around 5.8 million people) in England and Northern Ireland score at the lowest level of proficiency in literacy (at or below Level 1).
67. England’s children have less positive attitudes towards reading than in many other countries: only 26% of 10 year-olds ‘like reading’ compared to 46% in Portugal, 42% in Georgia, 35% in Romania, and 33% in Azerbaijan.
68. Most children in England do not read on a daily basis: in 2011 just over a third (37%) of 10 year-olds surveyed reported reading for pleasure every day.
69. In England, 36% of adults don’t read for pleasure, rising to 44% of young people (aged 16 to 24).
70. In 2013/14, 18% of adults in England had only bought a novel or a book of stories, poetry or plays once or twice in the last 12 months.
71. 41% of 11-15 year-olds in England do not participate in reading and writing activities that are not required for school in their spare time.
72. In 2014/15, 30% of 5-15 year-olds in England had not visited a library in the last year. However, there are a significant number of regular library users in this age group: 20% had visited a library in the last week.
73. Reading Improves The Economy. One of cool facts about reading is that being able to read boosts ones sense of self-esteem, and it also improves our literacy skills. If you can’t read very well, your literacy skills are going to be pretty limited. And it is these limited literacy skills that are costing the economy a lot of money. According to studies, a lack of literacy skills costs the taxpayer and businesses around $20,000,000,000 in lost productivity, profits and wages each year. That is the true cost of not reading enough! Start your kids early. Turn them onto reading. It could be their ticket to a very bright future.
74. Literacy programs that utilize the local language can help preserve cultural diversity and empower people to participate in their own culture.
75. 122 million youth around the world are illiterate, 60% of those youth are girls.
76. Around the world, youth literacy rates are higher than adult literacy rates reflecting increased access to education among younger generations.
77. Because literacy empowers individuals to take action, it has been shown to increase political participation which may lead to more stability and greater democratic opportunity.
78. A record breaking 85% of the global population is literate, but those who are not generally live in rural and low-income communities that are especially hard to reach with effective programs.
79. The United States is ranked 28th in the world for highest literacy rates (99%). Guatemala is ranked 164th.
80. 17% of the world’s adult population is not able to read or write.
81. 73% of Americans read books.
82. 28% of Americans read e-books.
83. The Japanese word Tsundoku means “to let reading materials pile up in one’s home and never read them”.
84. Medieval books had curses written in them.
85. During the great depression, “book riders” would take books into the Appalachian mountains.
86. A bookstore in Portland, Oregon takes up a whole city block.
87. According to the American Library Association, the Harry Potter series was the most banned and challenged book for the years 2000-2009.
88. Charles Dickens had a fake bookcase door, filled with humorously titled fake books.
89. One of the largest libraries of the ancient world was considered to be the Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt.
90. The current largest library in the world is the United States Library of Congress, which houses more than 38 million books.
91. Pretty much all books that are published in the United States must be sent to the Library of Congress, due to the US Copyright Act’s mandatory deposit provisions.
92. “Old book smell” is produced by the breakdown of two chemical components in paper, cellulose and lignin.
93. Much like with carbon-dating, scientists can analyze the chemicals responsible for “old book smell” to determine the age of a book.
94. The thickest book ever published, The Complete Miss Marple, is 12.67 inches wide and 4,032 pages long.
95. The most expensive book in the world is a first edition of the Bay Psalm Book, sold for $14,165,000.
96. The largest structure ever constructed from books was a “banned book Parthenon” for an art fair in June 2017 in Germany.
97. Those bibles you find in hotel rooms are distributed by an organization called Gideons International, founded in 1899.
98. The Gideons Bible was a somewhat popular topic for classic rock musicians.
99. The largest published book is a giant copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
100. The longest novel ever written is Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust.
101. The longest audiobook in the world consists of lectures from Takaaki Yoshimoto, a philosopher, poet and literary critic.
102. The oldest work of literature is The Epic of Gilgamesh.
103. The oldest novel in the world is The Tale of Genji, written in 11th century Japan
104. The first book ever published was the Gutenberg Bible in 1453.