A Reading Culture

Bus Boys & Poet’s

The president of Central Connecticut State University Jack Miller commissioned a study to determine the most literate and illiterate cities in the country. The study looked beyond the ability to read to what people do with their ability to read. 

Dear President Jack W. Miller,

I have to make time to read. With more distractions than ever, I just don’t find myself reading as much as I would like (and no Deadspin don’t count). After reading an article about your study on the most and least literate cities, I have to wonder if it’s because of the city I live in.

I’m interested to know which side of things, literate or illiterate, Dallas fell in your study. I assume it doesn’t hold a candle to Austin. That’s just an enlightened place with amazing independent bookstores and a constant influx of academically curious people. But Dallas (the city proper, definitely not the entire Metroplex) has it’s share of book-reading intellectual types. I might even consider myself one, when I have time (again). But admittedly, it’s not part of the culture like in the cities mentioned in the study. When I was in DC, apparently the most literate city in the country, I went to some of the coolest bookstores like Bus Boys & Poets and Kramer Books & Afterwards Cafe. But hey, Half-Price Books is from Dallas, one of the last successful national bookstore chains!

Thanks for the interesting study. Hope to hear back.

RESPONSE:

Thanks for taking the time to read my study and to ask about it.  Frankly, the main reason I do the study every year is to at least get literacy into people’s discussions about quality of life.  Dallas is not that far off from Austin and both are ranked above other cities in Texas including Plano, Fort Worth, Houston, Arlington, San Antonio, El Paso, and Corpus Christi.

Of the 77 cities in the U.S. with over 250,000 population in the city limits,  Austin was tied for 21st and Dallas was 37th.  Both of these cities were above the median.  In fact,  in two of the six categories Dallas scored higher than Austin.  Those categories were newspaper circulation per capita and quality of public libraries (which is based on several factors including holdings, circulation, number of librarians  per capita, etc.).

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