3 in 5 Americans Hope Their Summer Reads Will Make Them Look Smarter

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

In a July 2021 survey of 2,000 U.S. Americans, OnePoll (on behalf of Thriftbooks) asked respondents about the summer and fall reading plans, as well as some general bookish preferences. Some of the answers are pretty predictable: 51% said they prefer paperbacks and 46% prefer hardcovers, while just 34% prioritize ebooks and 23% would rather listen to audiobooks. Others a little more surprising.

Graphic with person drinking coffee and reading books with text saying 56% of Americans admit to reading a serious book in the summer to seem smarter

56% of respondents admitted that they choose at least one “serious” book for their summer TBR to seem more intelligent. Perhaps that pick is a history book, since 36% said they try to learn about history in the summer.

Graphic showing that more men than women look forward to romantic reads in the summer

One stat that will likely surprise readers is that more men than women are planning on including romantic reads in their summer books plans: 56% of men vs 37% of women (no numbers were provided for non-binary participants). Of course, “romantic reads” doesn’t necessarily mean the romance genre, but it does mean that more men are hoping to include books with romantic elements.

Graphic saying the 2 in 5 Americans read more mysteries in the summer

I imagine that men read more romantic reads in the summer because they are also more likely to read books in the summer that they feel they would otherwise be judged for. 73% of men associate summer with judgement-free reading, as do 62% of women.

They also discussed with respondents their “guilty pleasure” reads, which ranged from true crime to vampire romances to cozy mysteries. (40% of respondents read more mystery novels in the summer months.)

Respondents also shared some of the books they thought would be “mindless” fun that turned out to be favorites, including To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, A Painted House by John Grisham, and The People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry.

Graphic with text saying that most read more in the summer, but plan to add an extra half hour of reading in the fall

Summer leads the seasons in reading, with about half of respondents saying they read the most in these months. We always have optimistic views of doing even better in the fall, though, and the average reader plans to add an extra half hour to their weekly reading in the coming months.

As for which books they’ll read, the most popular source for recommendations is from people the reader knows personally (40%), while 33% will consult bestseller lists and 22% prioritize book club picks. Almost half (48%) of readers look forward to reading a book that’s been made into a Netflix show.

Looking for more reading related stats? Check out these surveys!