Washington D.C. is still ‘America’s most literate city’

February 6, 2014
The National Book Festival gala dinner at the Library of Congress, the world's largest library, which is in the nation's most literate city. (Washington Post/Ron Charles) The National Book Festival gala at the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, which is in the nation’s most literate city. (Washington Post/Ron Charles)

It’s our annual excuse to feel superior to San Francisco. For the fourth year in a row, the nation’s capital has been named the most literate city in America.

The list is compiled each year by Central Connecticut State University, which, weirdly, is located in a state that contains none of The Most Literate Cities in America.

CCSU considers each city’s “bookstores, educational attainment, Internet resources, library resources, periodical publishing resources and newspaper circulation.” (And did I mention “newspaper circulation”? Work with me here, people!)

Only cities with populations above 250,000 are ranked, which keeps the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn from eating our lunch (not that they would eat our non-kale lunch). But in fact, New York, which boasts a few novelists, a sweet library and an up-and-coming newspaper, comes in at No. 16 — way behind Kansas City (ouch!). Happily, I’ve only worked in Top 10 cities: St. Louis, Boston, Washington, so I have no idea what harrowing darkness the poor folks in LA must endure (No. 64).

Here’s the top 10 list for 2013:

1. Washington

2. Seattle

3. Minneapolis

4. (tie) Atlanta

4. (tie) Pittsburgh

6. Denver

7. St. Paul

8. Boston

9. St. Louis

10. San Francisco

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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