There was this post on Knitflame stating a statistic that said that less than half of the Americans polled had read a book in the last year, where in Canada it was less than 20% that hadn't read a book in the last year.
So what does this mean? As an enthusiastic bibliophile, it's distressing but not altogether shocking. Watching TV is easier than picking a book and sticking to it, I suppose. I also know people who use their bookshelves for storing knick-knacks and other similar kitschy crap (ugh). I've known people who needed prodding to read, but got hooked on a series once they did (woo! I converted one!).
I'll have to admit that majoring in Lit cut down on my personal time for reading, but I did get to read many of the books that were on my "to read" list. Working full-time on a computer cuts down on it too; by the time I get home, my eyes have been fatigued by the screen too long to incite the desire to read (although I'm currently working on "Fat, White Vampire Blues" upstairs and "She's Come Undone" downstairs. I've read a bunch of romance novels, but don't count them as books.
With the onset of the internet, I think people are doing more reading than before. The existence of blogs- something somewhat personal that everyone can read- makes it so one would assume that people are reading more through the neccessity of having to do so online. I read the first 13 chapters of Pride and Prejudice online; I'm also reading the Court TV bits about various serial killers. Blogs, MySpace, Friendster, all of those require reading. Does it contribute or detract from literacy? What about forums and chats?
Although I can blame the decline of spelling and complete sentences on chats and forums, I have to admit that people are reading them, and that's the point, right?
Ok, off to watch my Saturday morning cartoons.