Although Sarah got first crack at interpreting the survey that says one in four Americans haven’t read a book this year, I did want to take a passing shot at Pat Schroeder‘s partisan commentary. Schroeder, the head of the Association of American Publishers, told an AP reporter that self-identified liberals read more books than self-identified conservatives because “the Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans,” and because liberals “can’t say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion.”
In reality, the differences between liberal and conservative book readership aren’t that huge: “22 percent of liberals and moderates said they had not read a book within the past year, compared with 34 percent of conservatives,” according to the survey, while “liberals typically read nine books in the year… [and[ conservatives typically read eight.” So Schroeder’s attempt to frame the left-right spectrum as eggheads versus dittoheads doesn’t really fly. But if I really wanted to be bitchy, as somebody who comfortably identifies himself left of Schroeder, I could suggest that the whole “peeling the onion” mindset is part of the reason liberals have been so ineffective at the national political level ever since they allowed the current administration to seize power seven years ago, and continue to be ineffective even though they managed to regain the congressional majority in the last election. Frankly, I imagine many of the voters who put those liberals into office would like to them stop peeling onions and bring out the sharp knives.
Or, hey, Bill Clinton‘s new book just came out, so so liberal commentators could spend a couple weeks muddling over the significance of that.