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73% of Americans don’t believe there should be censorship of books

Almost three-quarters of Americans don’t believe there should be censorship of books, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 general population Americans revealed 73% are opposed to banning books — and 43% have sought out challenged or banned books to read in 2022.

Respondents were shown a list of some of the most frequently banned books since 1990, as determined by the American Library Association, and were asked which ones they’ve ever read.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (31%) topped the list, with “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak in second and third, respectively.

Commissioned by Half Price Books and conducted by OnePoll, the survey looked beyond banned and challenged books and delved into respondents’ overall reading habits for 2022.

The survey found that the average respondent read two and a half books per month — and only 9% of Americans surveyed didn’t read a single book over the course of the year.

Throughout the year, 48% discovered a new favorite book, series or author, but not everything they read was a success: 62% also found something they absolutely hated.

Four in five (83%) readers also picked up at least one of the best-selling books of 2022.

When shown a list of best-selling books from The New York Times, respondents were most likely to have read “Run, Rose, Run” by Dolly Parton and James Patterson (24%), followed by Stephen King’s “Fairy Tale” (23%) and Nora Roberts’ “Nightwork” (22%).

“Regardless of whether people are choosing best sellers, rereading old favorites or picking up something new, we will always promote building better reading habits by making books more accessible to all,” said Kathy Doyle Thomas, president of Half Price Books.

For some respondents, too many books is a real problem: 64% said they own so many books, they don’t have space for them all.

And they don’t have time to read them all, either — on average, respondents said 35% of the books on their shelves are unread.

That’s not likely to change anytime soon, as 40% of readers said they increased their “to-be-read” pile over the course of 2022.

This might be due in part to respondents not learning the lesson of, “never judge a book by its cover.” Six in 10 (59%) said they’re guilty of this — and a third (34%) admitted they’re more likely to buy a physical copy of a book if it has an aesthetically-pleasing cover.

But respondents are still cognizant of how many books they have, and 62% are trying to spend less money on new books — shopping used, checking them out from the library and trading with friends or family instead.

The numbers reflect that: the survey found 56% are buying used books, followed closely by trading with loved ones (55%) or buying new (55%).

Half of the respondents also currently use a local library to check out books.

“We encourage readers to find ways to keep books in circulation by sharing with others, selling them back or even checking them out from their local library,” said Thomas. “A used book reads the same as a new book and keeps excess reading material out of landfills.”

WHEN GIVEN A LIST OF SOME OF THE MOST COMMONLY BANNED BOOKS, WHICH HAVE RESPONDENTS READ?

● “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee — 31%

● “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll — 29%

● “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak — 28%

● “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck — 26%

● “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank — 26%

● “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling — 25%

● “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London — 25%

● “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl — 24%

● “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood — 23%

● “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou — 23%

BEST-SELLING BOOKS THAT RESPONDENTS READ IN 2022

● “Run, Rose, Run” by Dolly Parton and James Patterson — 24%

● “Fairy Tale” by Stephen King — 23%

● “Nightwork” by Nora Roberts — 22%

● “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens — 22%

● “Call Us What We Carry” by Amanda Gorman — 22%

● “The Hotel Nantucket” by Elin Hilderbrand — 21%

● “It Starts with Us” by Colleen Hoover — 21%

● “The Judge's List” by John Grisham — 21%

● “House of Sky and Breath” by Sarah J. Maas — 21%

● “The Paris Apartment” by Lucy Foley — 21%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Half Price Books between Nov. 18–21, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).