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NEWSLETTERS Current Issue Barna: Readers remain ‘evangelists’ for YA books
Barna: Readers remain ‘evangelists’ for YA books PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 01:13 PM EDT

ProofOfHeaven-webBarna Group presented Americans age 18 and over with a list of current best-sellers and new releases, asking which books they can check off their own reading list. Among the 20 titles presented, three of the five most widely read were released as major motion pictures during the past year.

Catching Fire, the second installment in Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy, topped the list of recent books Americans have read from cover to cover, while Ender’s Game, the classic military sci-fi coming-of-age novel by Orson Scott Card, came in second.

Tied for third place were Sycamore Row by John Grisham and Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander.

Rounding out the top five was Divergent by Veronica Roth, the first book in the best-selling post-apocalyptic Young Adult series with a strong leading lady. Readers who have children under 18 (64%) are also more likely than those who don’t (36%) to say they finished Divergent.

In terms of demographics, men (82%) are more likely than women (68%) not to have finished any of the books, while women (14%) are twice as likely as men (6%) to have read two of the titles cover to cover.

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,” said Barna Vice President Roxanne Stone. “Thousands of books in dozens of genres come out each year, and readership is spread unevenly across the publishing landscape. Even the most popular books—such as Catching Fire—boast a readership of only about one in seven adults. Fewer than 1% of Americans have read this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner by Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch. Aside from a very occasional outlier, such as the final installment of the ‘Harry Potter’ series, there’s really no equivalent to a summer blockbuster’s opening weekend (like Guardians of the Galaxy’s third-largest-ever $94 million August opening). And there’s hardly ever a book group discussion at the water cooler come Monday morning.

“Most books just don’t create the ‘cultural moment’ that other forms of entertainment do,” Stone added. “Young Adult books, however, continue to prove the exception. Readers from across generations and demographic segments enjoy books like Hunger Games and Divergent, and their readers become evangelists for both the books and the movie adaptations. Since Harry Potter, publishers and filmmakers have returned again and again to this proven formula. And they will likely continue to do so.”

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