A good summer read is a wonderful thing. And, like movies or television shows, books can provide a fascinating window into the kinds of stories, heroes, and villains that capture our culture's imagination, as well as offering insights about our inner lives of thought and imagination. But our reading habits say things about us too.

The Barna Group recently peeked over the shoulders of over-18s in the United States, asking what they were reading. Here are a few interesting cultural tidbits gleaned from their research:

  • Three out of the top five most popular books were released as major sci-fi/futuristic films during the past year (Catching Fire, Ender's Game, and Divergent).
  • As evidenced by the gender percentages reading Catching Fire (strong female lead) and Ender's Game (strong male lead), men and women relate strongly to hero characters of their gender. (About two-thirds of Catching Fire's readers are women—that percentage is reversed for Ender's Game).
  • Women are more engaged with the bestsellers—more likely than men to finish a book from the top-five list, and more likely to read two titles from the list.
  • "Among faith segments, practicing Protestants are the big readers. They are twice or more as likely (21%) as those of other faiths (11%) and no faith (8%) to have read two of the polled books. They also outpace practicing Catholics, 10% of whom say they finished two books."
  • "While book reading remains a popular American pastime, it certainly isn't the unifier that TV, movies or sports are," says Barna Vice President Roxanne Stone … . "Most books just don't create the 'cultural moment' that other forms of entertainment do[.]"
Research  |  Trends
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