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Book News: Millennials Reading More Than Older Americans, Study Finds

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Young Americans are more likely to have read a book in the past year than their older counterparts, a new study finds. According to data from the Pew Research Center, "88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older." The findings go against the oft-repeated narrative that the Internet is degrading the reading habits of the young (those millennials supposedly Snapchatting themselves into a cultureless stupor). In another surprise, people under 30 were also more likely to say that there is "a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet."
  • For The New Republic,William Deresiewicz considers the legacy of John Updike and his Rabbitnovels: "The Rabbit novels are a great symphony of American junk, accumulating in suburbs and arteries, of American lives, killed and wounded in families and wars. The country is winding down, like Rabbit himself, a large, selfish, thwarted power." (Fun fact from the story: David Foster Wallace once – citing an anonymous friend — called Updike "a penis with a thesaurus.")
  • At The New Yorker,Elif Batumandoes a deep dive into the world of awkwardness: "'Awkward' implies both solidarity and implication. Nobody is exempt. Awkwardness comes from the realization that, when you look around the world, it's difficult to identify anyone who isn't either the victim or the beneficiary of injustice. Awkward moments remind us that we are never isolated individuals, and that we are seldom correct when we say, "Not in my name." Awkward moments are, by definition, relatable. ... Anxiety is pathological, neurotic (a word you don't see so much anymore); awkwardness is existential, universal."
  • Emma Straub has some advice for would-be novelists in Rookiemagazine: "You can skip stuff! It took me a long time to learn this one. You don't have to start a scene where someone wakes up and follow them for every second of the day. You can start wherever you want! You can start with 'Beloonda picked her tooth up off the hallway floor.' You can start with 'Belinda peed loudly, the way she imagined a Hawaiian waterfall might sound.' Then you can go somewhere else entirely! You can fast-forward six months! You can do anything you want."
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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