Recently I have been wondering a few things:
1) How many books does the average American read in a year?
2) What percent of Americans have a passport?
Because I kind of feel like I have read stats on this at some point and have been utterly shocked. Like in a bad way. So, I googled around, and I found more than I wanted to know about the "average" American.
First my two questions:
1) In 2006 nearly 25% of people read no books. Ok, let's just pause and think about that. One in four adult human beings read NO books the ENTIRE year. Which is pretty baffling to me. I mean, seriously? (PS, it's an Associate Press survey, which you can't get the result of without buying a subscription, but this blogger from Brooklyn wrote an entry about it) But, there is some hope, because 20% of those polled read >15 books. Phew. And I thought our entire country was going down the tubes. Ok, so to round out the numbers, 30% read 1-5 books and 23% read 5-15. So, I mean, basically half of the country read less than 5 books in an entire calendar year. No big deal. Not like our country gets a bad rep in the world or anything for sucking at life. But I won't get up on my soapbox. For now.
And yes, I have already read at least 15 books this year. And I'm totally ok if that comes across as me being a snobby condescending person by stating that fact. Reading a lot is a good thing.
2) So passports. I was right, it's really pitiful how few Americans leave our shores. The number now (with the new requirements to have a passport to go to Canada and Mexico) is cited as anywhere from 20-30%, depending on where you look. I actually couldn't find an exact number, but a NY Times article cited the State Department's 27% have a passport and this blogger did an investigation into before the Mexico/Canada requirements and found similarly ranging numbers. But from what I can gather the numbers floated around 10-15% until recently. And that's just really truly sad to me. Travel is such an enriching and mind-opening thing to do. Oh but right, that would assume that most people are open-minded and willing to step outside their comfort zone. Silly Liz. Again, our country gets this rep for being insular and self-absorbed. I can't imagine why. I'm not bitter, I promise.
What I wonder is how much overlap there is between the ~25% of American who read >15 books per year and the ~25% who own a passport. It seems to me there might be a pretty high correlation. I mean, that's just my gut, but I could be totally wrong.
Alright, so what does the "average" American look like then? Well, this dude named Kevin O'Keefe wrote a book about just that: The Average American
So, here are some characteristics of the average American, according to Kevin's study:
• Eats peanut butter at least once a week
• Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky
• Can name all Three Stooges
• Cannot name all three branches of government
• Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart
• Eats at McDonald's at least once a year
• Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day
• Never sings in the shower
• Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium
• Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000
• Has fired a gun
• Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall
• Weighs 135 to 205 pounds
• Is between the ages of 18 and 53
• Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option
• Grew up within 50 miles of current home
Ok let's just put it out there how unaverage I apparently am. And apparently most people I know (who, by the way almost all own passports and devour books like its their job). Because seriously, everyone I know sings in the shower. So, on that alone, I think he had some people not telling him the truth.
And look at me living in my apartment, not anywhere close to a Wal-Mart, never having fired a gun or gambled. I don't eat peanut butter more than maybe three times a year, but I do prefer smooth. I'll give him that one. But really, I question the mental stability of chunky eaters anyhow, there is nothing average about someone who likes crunch their peanut butter. It's like people who prefer pulpy OJ. Come on now. Who wants to chew while drinking? It's just craziness.
And I will say, I can both name all three stooges AND branches of government.
So I can rest easy at night knowing that I defy average. So, eat that average America. And why don't you get on board while you're at it? Average is so... boring.