When I was a reporter, I rarely thought of news as either “good” or “bad.” I left those judgments to the audience. But now that I’m more of a consumer than a producer of media, I have to admit I’m growing weary of hourly reports about national and international strife.
And so far, the feel-good features that often close out TV newscasts during the holidays - puppies getting lost then miraculously found, Samaritans handing out cash to strangers - aren’t really helping. Nor are websites like goodnewsnetwork.org, where I found this headline – no kidding – “Anxious Rescue Goat Always Calms Down When Wearing Her Duck Suit.”
Ok, that is funny, but right now, I need something a little more substantial to brighten my day.
So I logged onto the Pew Center for Research, looking for something – anything - presenting Americans in a flattering light. And there, right next to depressing data about “A Divided and Pessimistic Electorate,” was something that lifted my spirits.
According to a recent survey, 73 percent of Americans have read a book in the past 12 months. Of course, you can see the flip side - 27 percent have NOT read a book. But I choose to be happily surprised that books are still sort of popular.
And in this survey, print still wins out over e-books or audio books. It seems many of us still like to turn actual pages, as our ancestors did. My late mother loved to read. So does my daughter, and her daughter, and on Saturday morning, when we go to the library together, I’m reminded that reading is both a solitary act – and a social one.
The New York Times estimates that about five million Americans belong to book clubs. And they apparently like to browse in cozy shops, since the American Booksellers Association notes that independent bookstores are enjoying a revival, increasing by 27 percent since 2009.
That should please my bookseller friend, Kim Crady-Smith, owner of Lyndonville’s Green Mountain Books. Kim’s got quite a following. When her other business, the Grindstone Café, recently teetered on the financial brink, customers rallied at a time when, on a larger scale, societies seem to be falling apart, to save a place where neighbors read books, meet authors, support local artists, knit, take yoga classes, play chess – and generally come together.
And that cheers me up, too.