It is an alarmingly low number but it came as no great surprise to me.
As an avid reader, one of the first things that truly surprised me when I arrived in Brazil was the absence of books in everyday life. No one reads books on the beach and you rarely see people reading books on the metro or on the bus. When I went to friends’ houses I often couldn’t find their books because they hadn’t very many. (I love to browse other people’s bookshelves.)
The study carried out by the Instituto Pro-Livro quantified this and said that 77 million Brazilians don’t read at all. The 95 million that do read, consume an average of 1.3 books a year. By comparison, the study says that number is 11 in the US and seven in France.
Twenty-two percent of the 95 million who do read said they read because they have to.
Getting people to read is one of the Instituto’s aims but they acknowledge it is not easy, particularly in a nation where books are expensive, education is precarious and there is no simply no ingrained culture of reading. I wish them luck. They are going to need it.