One thing I’ve noticed when I traveled in Europe is that the average person seems much more literate.  Bookstores abound, and you often see people sitting in a park with a book. Or reading on the tube.  Or just reading.  

One researcher has just come up with a list of the ten most literate U.S. cities: 

Here is the full Top 10 Most Literate list for 2008 (OK, there are 11 cities on the list) generated by Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University:

Minneapolis (tied for 1st) Seattle (tied for 1st) Washington, D.C. St. Paul, Minn. San Francisco Atlanta  Denver Boston St. Louis Cincinnati (tied for 10th) Portland, Ore. (tied for 10th)

Miller’s research for this year’s “America’s Most Literate Cities” was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University. The original AMLC study was published online in 2003 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The data for the 2008 analysis came from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Booksellers Association, Audit Bureau of Circulations, Yellow Pages and other sources.

The AMLC study attempts to capture the literacy of major U.S. cities with populations of 250,000 and above, presenting a large-scale portrait of the nation’s cultural vitality. 

“From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation,” Miller said.

Contrary to popular wisdom, Internet use correlates with reading words printed on paper, Miller found. Cities ranked highly for having better-used libraries also have more booksellers; cities with more booksellers also have a higher proportion of people buying books online; and cities with newspapers with high per capita circulation rates also have a high proportion of people reading newspapers online.

“A literate society tends to practice many forms of literacy not just one or another,” Miller said.

However, when the literacy lens is opened to look at the picture worldwide, in terms of per-capita paid newspaper circulation, the United States ranks No. 31 in the world.

The Republic of Korea, Singapore, Venezuela, Finland, Greece, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway, among others, all significantly surpass U.S. circulation rates — often at a substantially higher cost to consumers, Miller said.

Angie here again: One reason Europe is more literate, in my humble opinion, is because writers are valued in tangible ways. Did you know that writers, artists, and poets pay no income tax in Ireland?  Or that authors in the U.K. receive a payment from public libraries based on how many times their books are checked out?  

It would be nice if the U.S. would consider something similar to encourage writers and readers. 


P.S. For those of you who want to read the Bible through–I found an online guide that breaks it down for you.  This guide is specifically designed for the NLT Study Bible, but you can also use it for any other version.  Look under “reading plan” at this link.  


  1. Smilingsal

    I notice that our state is not included on that list; I guess everyone is out getting a tan.

  2. Kathy

    I think I make a whole 40 cents a book or something like that. People do tend to think I can get my own books for free. I do give away a lot of copies but I’ve only managed to get a 40% discount. I found out that the bookstore gets a bigger discount than I do!

  3. Mocha with Linda

    I’m a bit surprised Austin isn’t on the list. We certainly have the internet geeks and UT, and the bookstores have plenty of people in them. The mayor even did a Keep Austin Reading promo a few years ago.

    Thanks for the eye-opening education on the financial life of an author. I’m a bit of a book snob – no Half-Price Books for me! I like mine brand-new. And it’s never been hard for me to say “no” to toys when we’re out and about, but books are another story. (Pun intended!) Both my teens have 2 tall bookcases each in their rooms that are filled with books.

  4. Kay Day

    I’m not surprised that we are on there. It seems to me – I have nothing to compare to – that Colorado also has a lot of writers.

  5. Mocha with Linda

    BTW, Just saw a post on John Piper’s blog with a whole variety of Bible Reading Plans – some printable, some RSS feeds, some emailable. You can see it here.

  6. Angela

    Great tip, Linda! Thanks for the link!


  7. Dazer Linda G

    We are at the bottom of the list, but at least we are on the list.
    Portland,OR Yea!! One reason we can read is our wonderful library system. They have a lot of Christian fiction.

    I’m sorry that these doesn’t really help the author’s earn more money, but it is the only way I can afford to read as many different authors as I do. If a book really grabs me, I try to buy it later.

    This reminds me I need to go the the library site and suggest that they purchase “The Face”

  8. Angela

    Thanks, Linda! And please know that I support libraries because I know lots of readers “find” me there–a lot of people won’t buy an author they’ve never tried, so libraries and yes, used books are a good place to “experiment.” 🙂


  9. Elizabeth M Thompson

    Wouldn’t it be fabulous if every writer served in some way to increase literacy? Reading to small children in libraries or schools, teaching adults how to read one-on-one, donating to projects that promote literacy. The opportunities are endless.

  10. Holly

    To add to your discussion with Linda, I know that word of mouth and then the library is where I began reading Angela’s books. Now I buy them and pass them along to others, only to replace them and hand them along…and so on. So libraries are a very good place to start!

    Can’t wait to read the fetus in fetu (sp?) book from the post above. I wonder just where it will take us!? BTW, I always wanted to be a judge…not that kind, though.

    May you be blessed this year, Angie. Still praying for your family.

  11. Angela

    Thank you, Holly. 🙂



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