How reading make us happy in 2022 — and what we would change

Four qualities stood out for the people who said reading made them happy in our reader satisfaction survey.

This is the last in a series of six posts on our findings from our State of the Reader 2022 survey. We conduct this survey every year to shed light on who readers are and what makes them tick.

Most respondents were satisfied with the quantity and quality of their reading.

We asked respondents to reflect on their reading in 2022 from both a quantity and quality perspective. We defined quantity as reading cadence and number of books read, and quality as reading depth, focus, and retention.

Overall, four out of five felt satisfied with their reading quantity (81%) and quality (85%). Hooray!

However, when we dug into degrees of satisfaction, a higher share of respondents felt very satisfied with their reading quantity than their quality — 51% versus 33%, respectively.

Relatedly, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) would choose quality over quantity if they could magically improve either element of their reading in 2023.

Why weren't more people happy with their reading quality?

Distraction! This stood out in last year’s survey, and it was even more apparent this time around. Seventy-two percent of respondents said that they struggled to focus while reading or remember what they’d read, even when they were genuinely interested in the book.

Many identified their phone — and social media in particular — as the primary offender. As one said, “It’s wild how sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a book I’m loving, and I’ll mindlessly but overwhelmingly get the urge to open IG or TikTok. I usually catch myself before I actually start scrolling, but it increasingly feels like my phone is hijacking my brain and that freaks me out.”

On the good-news front, some respondents had developed strategies to mitigate the impact of distraction. In particular, respondents who were in the habit of engaging with their books as they read — by highlighting them, annotating them, journaling about them, or discussing them with others — were more satisfied with the quality of their reading. (Psst! this is why our Book Boards exist!)

“Using Italic Type Book Boards has really helped with the quality/depth of my reading. I love knowing that I can go back to them to refresh my memory, and that the things I really loved about a book are ‘safe’ there versus floating around (inevitably to be forgotten) in my mind.”

What distinguished happy readers from dissatisfied ones?

From both a quality and a quantity perspective, we wanted to understand what characteristics — if any! — consistently differentiated respondents who were satisfied with their reading from those who were not.

One big distinction emerged off the bat, and it had to do with external circumstances. Respondents who shared that they’d experienced a major life change in 2022 were much likelier to fall in the ‘Dissatisfied’ bucket, regardless of whether the upheaval was something exciting (moving in with a partner, having a baby) or upsetting (dealing with a chronic illness, losing a loved one). Reading, it would seem, thrives on routine!

There’s only so much you can do about, well, life. It happens (and not to get all existential, but we wouldn’t want it any other way!). But external circumstances were far from the only differentiating factor when it came to reading satisfaction.

Four other key differences emerged, all of which had to do with reading attitudes and approaches.

As a reminder, this survey is based on a convenience sample, so we have to be careful with extrapolation. But if you recognize yourself in any of these ‘Dissatisfied’ mindsets, it might be worth experimenting with the ‘Satisfied’ approach. And if you do, we’d love to hear your experience!

That's all, folks!

This brings us to the close of our 2022 State of the Reader analysis. If you’re one of the 803 folks who participated, again, thank you! If you’ve read this far, we hope you’ve found these learnings as intriguing and inspiring as we have. Stay tuned for how they’ll be showing up in our product. And in the meantime, if you have questions, want to discuss, or just want to swoon over books and data, don’t hesitate to reach out at

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