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How Did You Make Your Summer Reading Choices?

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • September 16, 2021

We recently enlisted OnePoll to survey 2,000 Americans about their seasonal reading choices and we learned a few things. For one, summer represents the biggest reading season for almost half of the respondents. Here are some of our other key takeaways.

1. We want to look smart.

Almost three in five said that they read at least one "serious" book a summer in order to look smarter. Even so, many respondents also said that they use the summer to read books they like without fear of judgment (73 percent of men vs 62 percent of women).

More than a third of readers polled said they like to brush up on their knowledge of history during the summer months. This is in keeping with our own experience, as many of us have enjoyed excellent histories lately. Here are some of our recent faves:

2. Real books still rule.

Nearly half of respondents said they love reading physical books because of how the pages feel (us too!) and the ability to see their progress while reading. And 42 percent said they value reading as quality time away from screens.

Here are the specifics about preferences among various book formats:

  • Over half (51 percent) prefer paperbacks
  • Hardcovers got 46 percent approval
  • e-readers came in at 34 percent
  • And 23 percent enjoy audiobooks

Our take: "It's great to see the continued love and appreciation people have for physical books. People still love to snuggle up with a good read."

3. 'Tis the season for romance and mystery.

Not surprisingly, more than half of respondents said they look forward to romantic reads on their holidays. Perhaps less expected: this broke down into 56 percent of men vs. 37 percent women. A few of this summer's popular romances include:

Two in five participants said they enjoyed more mysteries during the summer than other times of year. If you're looking for something along those lines, here are a few that have been flying off the shelves:

4. We trust friends before trends.

Word of mouth is still the best way to spread the word about what's good! Nearly half of answering readers said they base their selections on recommendations from people they know over best-seller lists (33 percent) and book club picks (22 percent). So if you're looking for reading recommendations, ask your friends. You can also check out some of our recent staff picks!

5. Is it mindless? Or amaaazing!

Many readers shared examples of some of their summer reads that they initially assumed would be "fun" and "mindless" but ended up loving. Some of these favorite titles included:

Our take: "Just like with human relationships, it sometimes takes a while to get to know a book beyond its first pages."

6. We still like to read first, then watch.

Almost half of respondents said they were eager to read a book that had been adapted for the screen. But eight out of ten of those also said it was important to them to read the book first. (No surprise here!) Here are a few newer adaptations to put on your read-watch list:

It's clear that summer is a big season for reading, so we are glad to have (and share!) these insights about summer reading habits. It was also exciting to see that a large percentage of participants had plans to increase their reading in the fall!

We always welcome the opportunity to learn more about what readers want, so if you have any thoughts on what our survey revealed, please let us know in the comments or get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where we share daily book recommendations, literary tidbits, and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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