Apparently, the French are big readers which I find a bit surprising. According to some figures, they buy a lot of books, which isn’t the same thing as reading them. (I know I’m a pedant, but without clarity, there can be no accurate communication.) Quoth the Times (without citing a source)
France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.
I see people reading in public all the time: in bars and restaurants; on the Métro; on benches; in parks. What I have yet to see is an apartment with a nightstand which is where people generally have books.
This has mystified me for however long I’ve been in France. (At this point, it’s been more than a while.) I’ve sublet a whole hell of a lot of apartments and not a one has had a place to park a book at night, never mind other important bedside items like a lamp, an alarm and a box of tissues.
And I just don’t get it. Why don’t the French read in bed? I suppose the joke answer is that they’re all too busy having sex, but I’ve never heard any neighbors getting it on, though I do hear their phones ringing, their alarms going off and their dishes being put away.
UPDATE: Ha! I’m not alone!