Another thing noted in that AP poll was a crosstab with political philosophy. It will come as no surprise that liberals read more books than conservatives and moderates. We are the wonks, the dwellers of ivory towers, the secular worshiping at the altar of Darwin and Mapplethorpe. What's interesting, though not surprising, is that conservatives read only slightly less. (Liberals read on average 8 books a year, conservatives seven.) Where our eyeballs land is different--conservatives read a lot more religious material, and presumably a lot of stuff published by Regnery--but curiosity isn't the sole purview of liberals.
What's more interesting is that moderates read on average just five books a year. I will now draw, from this single data point, a larger theory not supported therein--but which seems consistent with other data points. Moderates and independents prize themselves on their open-mindedness. They style themselves the mavericks not swayed by rank party affiliation. Their minds rest on loftier clouds.
But when you consider that moderates are very often the people who waffle between pretty clear choices--war or no war, Bush or Kerry--this open-mindedness looks a lot more like empty-mindedness. For anyone with a modicum of insight into an issue, positions generally form. To see no distinction between Bush and Kerry is to have absolutely no idea what they stand for or what your own political philosophy is.
So I wasn't so surprised to read that moderates read less. Theirs is an open-mindedness untroubled by information.