Ranking Most and Least Book-Loving States in U.S.

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

National Read a Book Day is Wednesday, Sept. 6, and the fix is in. Given that millions of students will be returning to school, there are already going to be a lot of books read that day.

To commemorate the day, PennStakes.com took a break from covering sports betting and PA online casinos to look at the states that love to read the most and those that read the least.

We utilized two combined data points to develop the ranking of the 50 U.S. States in terms of loving books. We utilized WordsRated.com to get the average annual library visits per capita in 2023 and Google Trends to get the searches for “Amazon Kindle” over the past 12 months (August 2022-August 2023) Once acquiring that information, we averaged the ranking of the states to get our results.

States That Love Reading Books the Least

Rank, State Library Visits Rank Kindle Search Rank Average Pts.
50. Mississippi 50 50 50
49. Texas 48 42 45
48. Louisiana 43 46 44.5
47. North Dakota 49 34 41.5
46. New Jersey 42 40 41
45. Georgia 37 42 39.5
44. Florida 41 37 39
T-43. New York 31 45 38
T-43. Nebraska 33 43 38
41. Nevada 26 48 37
40. West Virginia 36 37 36.5
39. New Mexico 25 46 35.5
38. Pennsylvania 46 24 35
37. Alabama 39 28 33.5
36. Minnesota 10 24 31.5


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Data Not Kind to Pennsylvania

In addition to providing the best PA sportsbook promo codes and covering the Keystone State’s pro teams, PennStakes.com also does stories of cultural interest such as this.

It turns out, according to our data, Pennsylvania is on the list of least book-loving states. The Keystone State tied for 38th on the list, with New Mexico one worse and Alabama one better. Ironically, a well-known politician once described Pennsylvania as Philadelphia on one side and Pittsburgh on the other with Alabama in the middle. Maybe he was on to something.

Pennsylvania was mid-pack, ranked 24th, when it comes to Kindle searches per capita, but a dismal 46th in library visits per capita, ahead of Texas, North Dakota and Mississippi, three states where they’re more likely to ban books than read them. Kindle reading shouldn’t even be counted as online reading since National Read an eBook Day is Sept. 18. The survey did not look at books sold per state because National Buy a Book Day is Sept. 7, which seems like a missed sales opportunity as it should be before National Read a Book Day.

Looking at Pennsylvania Libraries

There are 470 public libraries in Pennsylvania – with more than 50 branches in Philadelphia and another 60+ in the Pittsburgh area. That leaves only around 350 public libraries over the rest of the large state, so it’s not surprising that attendance isn’t great. Another reason Pennsylvania might rate so low: Its own book bans. According to PEN America, nine Pennsylvania school districts banned 456 books last year, ranking Pennsylvania right behind Texas, with a hard-charging Florida looking to take over the top spot.

In July, a Pennsylvania state senator introduced a bill prohibiting book bans in state-funded libraries and schools. As of this writing it has not passed the state legislature.

The largest library in the state is the State Library of Pennsylvania, located in Harrisburg. It started collecting materials in 1745, so it’s older than America, and moved to Harrisburg in 1822. The State Library is expected to close for two months on Sept. 11, 2023, as it moves back to the Forum Building in Harrisburg. The library system at the University of Pennsylvania is the state’s largest private library system with more than 7.5 million volumes.

Libraries across Pennsylvania celebrate National Read a Book Day – in 2019, Oil Creek State Park, located in the northwest portion of the state, 60 miles southeast of Erie, celebrated by hosting a reading of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax with the park naturalist.


Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist who’s worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.

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