Who Needs a Television As Long as We Can Read?

Thinking back to the favorite pastimes of your childhood, how many of them do you still enjoy as much now as you did then? Not many, I’ll bet. The great exception is reading, which helps explain why we’ve yet to fulfill the dire pronouncements that America is a post-literate society. In a poll conducted for Ikea, adults were asked to name their favorite leisure activity, and reading won a clear plurality (24 percent). In fact, it pulled in more votes than the second- and third-place entries combined (outdoor activities like camping and fishing, 13 percent; sports, 10 percent). TV viewing wasn’t even close (7 percent). Do some people claim to love reading even though they never pick up anything more literary than a matchbook? If so (as seems likely), such lying is a further tribute to the great status reading enjoys. Elsewhere in the survey, respondents were asked to cite the books they liked best at age 9-12. The Hardy Boys series topped men’s list (cited by 58 percent), followed by Charlotte’s Web (55 percent), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (53 percent), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (35 percent) and the Nancy Drew books (28 percent). Women’s favorites when they were that age: Alice’s Adventures (70 percent), Nancy Drew(68 percent), Charlotte’s Web (66 percent), the Little House series (53 percent) and the Hardy Boys mysteries (46 percent).