These 21 Countries Read More Than the U.S.

These 21 Countries Read More Than the U.S.

If you thought there were no more international rankings where the United States, in all its glory, would rank surprisingly low, think again.

This map shows how many hours per week, on average, these major countries spend reading. Predicably, we're not doing so hot.


Image credit: Amazing Maps.

Coming in at a whopping No. 22, the U.S. got beat by a bunch of countries that routinely rank ahead of the U.S. in assessments of culture and education: Sweden, France and Australia all read significantly more than we do. Go figure.

But some of the biggest bookworms listed aren't ones that you'd expect to beat the U.S. in any international ranking. The Philippines and Indonesia, for example, score really low on the respected UN Human Development Index — they're 114th and 121st, respectively, while the U.S. is third. Yet, the average Filipino reads almost two hours more per week than the average American.

So what does this map tell us, other than that India reads a ton? First, it doesn't exactly mean that America is on the road to illiteracy. Two countries with some of the best education systems in the world — Japan and South Korea — are dead last in this ranking. Egypt ranks high, but only 74% of Egyptians are literate — well below the world average.

There's a deeper message here, though, beyond the easy argument that Americans just aren't thoughtful: Americans just don't have time.

The French may read an hour more per week than Americans, but the average American works a staggering 499 hours more than the average Frenchman per year. That makes it a little harder to make time for the latest Game of Thrones.

If anything, Americans are getting their news and entertainment elsewhere. NOP World, the firm that conducts this report, also studies how many hours of TV these countries watch. In that list, the U.S. ranks sixth (18 hours a week of TV, on average). Quite possibly because we're too tired from all that working.

But we should still probably read a lot more and watch a little less TV. At least we can collectively take solace in the fact that we beat Britain.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sam Brodey

Sam Brodey is a writer, journalist and University of Pennsylvania student, majoring in political science with a minor in bar trivia.

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