Embark on Reading

Brazilians, much less than their Argentinian neighbours appear to have a limited interest in literature. Its rare to catch a Brazilian reading a book on the metro, bus or heaven forbid on the beach. Statistics appear to back this up. A 2006 report in the Economist states that “a quarter of those aged 15 and older were functionally illiterate…only one literate adult in three reads books. The average Brazilian reads 1.8 non-academic books a year—less than half the figure in Europe and the United States.and in a recent survey of reading habits, Brazilians came 27th out of 30 countries, spending 5.2 hours a week with a book.” A number of factors would appear to influence such a sweeping generalization. Not least the cost of purchasing books and traditionally poor standards of education. Despite more attention in recent months to address this problem from national and state politicians along with NGO’s, one of the key issues that is rarely addressed in that of limited accessibility. Used book stores (sebo) tend to exist on the periphery of most urban shopping zones and tend not to appeal to the mainstream market. Where the middle classes do tend to congregate in Brazilian cities and shopping malls there is a small selection of book stores often with a limited choice. However, one initiative worthy of note which exists in Sao Paulo, Rio and Recife (Mexico and Chile also have similar shcemes) has been the siting of micro-libraries at subway stations.‘Embark on Reading’ which began in 2004 has been expanded recently due to its success in attracting readers, to the extent that scuffles have reportedly brken out in the queue to swap books. Latest stas show that 21,000 have signed up for the 11,000 books on offer. Despite being less likely to use the Metro womern make up 67.5% of the schemes sign-ups. A majority are also between 20 and 30 years of age having completed a high school level of education. Of the books most read are the following: Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, Gabriel Garica Marques’ Memories of My Melancholy Whores and The House by Danielle Steel.