For the first time in 25 years, Americans are reading more literature, which is great. According to a report from the National Endowment for the Arts, 50.2 percent of U.S. adults said they read at least one novel, short story, play or poem in 2008.
Sadly, that increased reading isn't coming in poetry or drama. Only 2.6 percent of those readers picked up a play, down from 3.6 percent in 2002. Only 8.3 percent read a book of poetry, down from 12.1 percent in 2002. By comparison, nearly half of all adults read a novel or short story in 2008.
I remember reading quite a few plays in high school. As an adult, I rarely picked one up until recently, when I started going to the theatre more. Now, I routinely read plays I've seen on stage. But I've always had pretty varied reading habits.
I think part of the problem is that drama is segregated in the parts of libraries and bookstores where few readers venture. And plays are simply no longer a part of popular culture. If we don't hear about them, we're not going to read them.
Maybe if Oprah picked August: Osage County for her book club that would help give drama a boost. Or, A Raisin in the Sun, since this is the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Lorraine Hansberry's play. How about it, Ms. Winfrey?