Rose coloured Glasses

I’ve often said that we remember the past through rose coloured glasses; that there never were golden ages of literature where everybody read widely before they were distracted by television, and then the internet. Here’s some more data (from a piece in The Atlantic) that confirms that view:

Check out these stats from Gallup surveys. In 1957, not even a quarter of Americans were reading a book or novel. By 2005, that number had shot up to 47 percent. I couldn’t find a more recent number, but I think it’s fair to say that reading probably hasn’t declined to the horrific levels of the 1950s.

All this to say: our collective memory of past is astoundingly inaccurate. Not only has the number of people reading not declined precipitously, it’s actually gone up since the perceived golden age of American letters. 

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