The Most Well-Read States in America, Ranked – A Study

Here at Face Dragons, we wanted to find a new way of understanding people’s reading habits across the country. Unfortunately, comparing and finding reliable data on individuals’ reading habits across a whole country is difficult. But with new methodologies, we can better understand who is reading and where.

In this Face Dragons study, we aimed to rank each state using data gathered from what individuals are searching on Google. Which state reads most? Find out below!

To jump straight to the complete list of rankings, click here

The Most Well-Read States

  • Washington D.C.
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Utah
  • Maine

The Least Well-Read States

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • South Carolina

Previous studies have used data like the number of libraries or bookstores per capita, but we know that many libraries don’t necessarily mean eyes on books. We wanted to create a study based on individuals’ reading habits. The best method we found for this was analyzing Google Search data.

Google Trends tells us which state searches which terms most. We needed a list of search terms that indicated “intent to read.” Below is the list of terms we used.

Each of these terms indicates that an individual is looking for a book to read:

Intent to Read Search Terms

  • Best Nonfiction
  • Amazon Books
  • Best Books
  • Bestsellers
  • New Books
  • Best Fiction
  • Reading List
  • Book Marks
  • Classic Novels
  • Book Suggestions
  • Book Ideas
  • Best Sellers
  • Romance Novels
  • Sci-Fi Novels
  • Thriller Novels
  • Funny Novels
  • Self Help Books
  • Best books 2022
  • Best Books 2021
  • Best Books 2020
  • What to read
  • What should I read
  • Good biographies
  • new release books
  • Top Rated Books
  • best paperbacks
  • Pulitzer Prize
  • Best Kindle books
  • Book Club
  • Recommended Books

The top five states searching for each of these search terms were recorded and given a score of 1-5.

We tallied the totals and ranked each state from 1-50. The complete rankings are below.

The Rankings

RankTotalState
158Washington D.C.*
239Massachusetts
335Vermont
433Utah
527Maine
620New York
719Oregon
815New Hampshire
914Minnesota
1014California
1113Wisconsin
1211Colorado
1310Louisiana
1410Oklahoma
159North Dakota
168Iowa
178Indiana
188Washington
197Ohio
207Florida
216South Dakota
226Texas
236Arizona
245Kentucky
255Nebraska
265Pennsylvania
275Wyoming
285New Mexico
294West Virginia
304Idaho
313Montana
323Connecticut
333Hawaii
343Mississippi
353Michigan
362Rhode Island
372Virginia
382Illinois
391Alabama
401Arkansas
411North Carolina
421New Jersey
430Alaska
440Delaware
450Georgia
460Maryland
470Missouri
480Kansas
490Nevada
500Tennessee
510South Carolina
50 States (*and Washing D.C) Ranked on the volume of their reading-related searches.