I’ve had the privilege of working with scholars and authors from all over the world, and the contrasts (and unexpected similarities) in their approaches to reading and writing are striking. One is not necessarily better or worse than another, but they sometimes run opposite to one another, and that can get an international scholar into a bewildering sort of trouble. For the sake of client confidentiality I won’t offer specific examples, but I will tell you that our work with Asian scholars from high school through grad school inspired a special twelve-minute digression in both our Reading Seminar and our Writing Seminar about the Western academic paradigm. Those twelve minutes made a world of difference in the academic careers of several persons.
No matter what academic paradigm you come from, reading and writing are the yin and yang of everything—not just academia but of business, technology, education, and civilization itself. It took a while to collect and compile the statistics (so it didn’t appear in January!) but it is here at last: A Guide to Global Reading Habits: Top Ten Most Literate Countries in 2016.
Just a couple of things that stood out to me: by one important measure the literacy of the United States of America compares favorably to Vietnam, and within the US, four of the ten most literate cities are caressed by Pacific Ocean breezes… coincidence? And for those of you who pooh-pooh books as passé and herald the ascendency of video and film, please note that book publishing, worldwide, outperforms all other media and entertainment industries. (Oh yes it does— scroll down near the bottom of the infographic)
May this inspire you to read more ambitiously and write more proficiently in the coming years!