CLOSE
Original image

Who Reads Books?

Original image

Update: These statistics appear to be from a 2003 survey conducted by a company called The Jenkins Group. The stats have been mentioned in books, blog posts and newspaper articles, but we've been unable to uncover any explanation of the results. We've reached out to The Jenkins Group and will update this post as warranted.

If anyone reads books, it's probably you guys. But according to some startling statistics, you're a dying breed. To wit:

• One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.

• 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.

• 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

• 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

• 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

I can relate to that last one -- I buy lots of books (or check them out from the library) but a significant portion of them I only get about halfway through -- or less, if they don't hold my interest. But that stat about 42% of college grads never reading another book? That's a little frightening. One thing I'm not certain about, and isn't mentioned in these statistics, is how they stack up over time -- but I'll bet you money that more than 42% of college grads kept reading books in the 1950s, 60s, 70s.

So what's to blame? A shift in popular entertainment? The dominance of the screen over the printed page? Are books just less interesting than they used to be? Or are we, as a society, getting ... dumber?

What do you think?

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
Original image
iStock

While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
Original image
iStock

Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios