Yay, We Can Read! St. Louis is the Nation's Eighth Most Literate City

Categories: Books

Kholood Eid
One of the reasons we're number eight.
​It's that time of year again, the only time of year when anybody outside New Britain, Connecticut, pays any attention to Central Connecticut State University. This morning the college released its annual ranking of the Nation's Most Literate Cities, and the results are heartening: St. Louisans may not be the richest or the best-educated citizens in this fair land, but we live in the U.S.'s eighth most literate city. Last year we were ninth. See? Progress! And, oh yeah, there were 75 cities in the rankings.

St. Louis, according to the data, has the fifth-highest newspaper circulation, publishes the ninth-highest number of magazines and journals and is tied for the seventh highest number of bookstores per 10,000 people. And, aside from Cleveland, St. Louis has the most extensive library system in the country. (It's unclear, however, whether the survey included the County Library and the Municipal Library Consortium, or if it confined itself to the city library.)

St. Louis, however, is a decidedly old-school kind of town, as demonstrated by our number 20 ranking for Internet usage. ("Internet usage" encompasses Internet book orders, number of e-readers per household and unique hits to the Web version of the city's newspaper -- again, it was unclear which newspaper, though we're betting on the Post-Dispatch.)

And we don't seem to need no education, either: We ranked 45th for percentage of residents with high-school diplomas and bachelor degrees. (Interestingly, in that category we tied with Arlington, Texas, home of the Rangers.)

This year, for the first time, the researchers examined the relationship between a city's wealth and literacy level. "Using US Census data for income in the relevant cities," writes lead researcher and college president Jack Miller, "I learned that wealthier cites are no more likely to rank highly in literacy than poorer cities....While poverty has a strong impact on educational attainment, its impact on literacy is much weaker."

That's comforting, we suppose, since, in terms of wealth, St. Louis ranked 70th out of 75 cities. See? We're poor, but we read! Although it can also be argued that reading is the cheapest form of entertainment -- aside from sex, which would explain some of our other rankings.

For the record, Washington, DC, is the most literate city this year and Bakersfield, California, is the least.

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This city is also filled with consumate bibliophiles.  I know many people who would rather stay home and read than do just about anything else.  I am trying to read as many books as humanly possible in 2012 and writing about my experience at http://erinsbibliomania.blogsp...

Brad Hicks
Brad Hicks

With all of the other advantages we have, we have GOT to do something about our college graduation rate. The bizarrely high percentage of us who qualified to get into college, then dropped out short of graduation, is why almost the only jobs that ever come here are call center jobs.

Ever since this particular ranking started coming out, I've been asking people all over town why they dropped out of college, and what could have kept them in until graduation. After asking dozens of people, I'm still no closer to really understanding it. Yes, college is expensive, but it's expensive in other towns, too. Yes, it's exhausting to try to finish a degree while working full-time, but are more of our college students full-time workers than elsewhere? It's almost more like there's a cultural thing going on here, a low-expectations thing: like there's no particular stigma on dropping out of college.


Wow, the awards and achievements for St. Louis and Missouri keep rolling in. Today we were named the state with the highest rates of black homicides. We are always in the top three most dangerous cities in the United States. We lead the nation in STD's.

So in short, it goes like this: Black thugs killed in the most dangerous clap-infested city in the nation can read really good. Wow. And who said the city schools were bad!

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