Tag Archives: Reading

The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This

It seems more people are reading books now than ever before…


This is some surprisingly good news from Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic.  I encourage you to click the link and read the full article.

My bet is this is due to e-readers, like the Amazon Kindle.  I’ve always read a lot, but the Kindle has put me into overdrive due to the ease of carrying it around and the ability to instantly obtain new books related to one you have just finished.

My guilty pleasure is mysteries set in various time periods in England, but I also read a lot of history, biographies and popular/literary fiction.  I go right from one book to another on my Kindle.

Of course, this doesn’t mention the quality of what people are reading, only the quantity….

Remember the good old days when everyone read really good books, like, maybe in the post-war years when everyone appreciated a good use of the semi-colon? Everyone’s favorite book was by Faulkner or Woolf or Roth. We were a civilized civilization. This was before the Internet and cable television, and so people had these, like, wholly different desires and attention spans. They just craved, craved, craved the erudition and cultivation of our literary kings and queens.

Well, that time never existed. Check out these stats from Gallup surveys. In 1957, not even a quarter of Americans were reading a book or novel. By 2005, that number had shot up to 47 percent. I couldn’t find a more recent number, but I think it’s fair to say that reading probably hasn’t declined to the horrific levels of the 1950s.

All this to say: our collective memory of past is astoundingly inaccurate. Not only has the number of people reading not declined precipitously, it’s actually gone up since the perceived golden age of American letters.

via The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This Chart – Alexis Madrigal – Technology – The Atlantic.

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Does anyone want to be “well-read?” – Roger Ebert’s Journal

Another great article on Reading and Readers from Roger Ebert…

It’s especially sad that, given digital books and the physical accessibility of “books” in so many formats today, that more people aren’t reading these authors.

I read a lot and I’m going to make a commitment to myself to read some of these “old friends” so at least I can say I read them.  And quote them….

“Consider: who at this hour (apart from some professorial specialist currying his “field”) is reading Mary McCarthy, James T. Farrell, John Berryman, Allan Bloom, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Edmund Wilson, Anne Sexton, Alice Adams, Robert Lowell, Grace Paley, Owen Barfield, Stanley Elkin, Robert Penn Warren, Norman Mailer, Leslie Fiedler, R.P. Blackmur, Paul Goodman, Susan Sontag, Lillian Hellman, John Crowe Ransom, Stephen Spender, Daniel Fuchs, Hugh Kenner, Seymour Krim, J.F. Powers, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Rahv, Jack Richardson, John Auerbach, Harvey Swados–or Trilling himself?”

I read through this list with dismay. I have read all but two of those writers, love some, and met five. Yet I know with a sinking feeling that Ozick asks the correct question. Who at this hour is reading them? Paul Goodman, whose books so deeply influenced and formed me? Edmund Wilson, a role model? James Farrell, whose naturalistic Studs Lonigan evoked a decade of Chicago life? Mailer, who boasted he had beaten all of his contemporaries?

How many of them have you read? Some, I suspect, but they belong to your past. Most of you will have read Ginsberg’s “Howl,” but how much more of his poetry? I have his collected poems on my shelf, but don’t care to take them down. Whitman’s poems, on the other hand, are at the side of my chair and I read one every morning. I have every one of Edmund Wilson’s books, in the sublimely uniform Farrar Strauss & Giroux editions. Who cites him? Susan Sontag? Remembered for defining Camp.

via Does anyone want to be “well-read?” – Roger Ebert’s Journal.

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The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything -NPR

Great article for we bibliophiles and other Culture Vultures from NPR:

The vast majority of the world’s books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It’s just numbers.

Consider books alone. Let’s say you read two a week, and sometimes you take on a long one that takes you a whole week. That’s quite a brisk pace for the average person. That lets you finish, let’s say, 100 books a year. If we assume you start now, and you’re 15, and you are willing to continue at this pace until you’re 80. That’s 6,500 books, which really sounds like a lot.

Let’s do you another favor: Let’s further assume you limit yourself to books from the last, say, 250 years. Nothing before 1761. This cuts out giant, enormous swaths of literature, of course, but we’ll assume you’re willing to write off thousands of years of writing in an effort to be reasonably well-read.

Of course, by the time you’re 80, there will be 65 more years of new books, so by then, you’re dealing with 315 years of books, which allows you to read about 20 books from each year. You’ll have to break down your 20 books each year between fiction and nonfiction – you have to cover history, philosophy, essays, diaries, science, religion, science fiction, westerns, political theory … I hope you weren’t planning to go out very much.

via The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything : Monkey See : NPR.

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Technological changes may lead to “reading divide” | The Raw Story

Interesting article, but I don’t go along with the overall premise…

I think e-readers have the potential to equalize and expand the reading public…

I keep reading, at some point in the near future,  Amazon may give away Kindles for free.  Sounds crazy, but Kindle users read more books and it could drive the e-book market further along and make this a profitable move…

Plus, the younger generation seems much more likely to respond to technology than to “paper” books…

Being able to download a book from the airwaves only seems to increase availability.  And Amazon has a lot of classics for free.

And I love my Kindle….

I’ve always been a big reader, but now I read even more…

TOKYO (Reuters) – The rapid rise of e-books could lead to a “reading divide” as those unable to afford the new technology are left behind, even as U.S. reading and writing skills decline still further.

At particular threat are African-American communities where many students are already falling behind their majority peers in terms of literacy, said award-winning writer Marita Golden — and this despite the growing ranks of noted African-American writers, such as Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.

“My biggest concern is that the technology will continue to widen the gap,” she told Reuters. “It won’t just be the digital divide but also a reading divide if reading becomes an activity that’s now dependent on technology.

“If reading becomes dependent on technology that must be purchased, then I think we may see the literacy divide persist and even widen.”

Years of discussion on the future of books amid the sweeping technological changes, along with a desire to make sure black writers were included in that discussion, prompted Golden to pull together her recent book, “The Word,” in which African-American writers talk about how reading shaped their lives for the better.

Edward P. Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Known World,” said he felt that “reading and writing are the foundations for becoming a better person and having a better life.” Others said how reading about lives like their own helped validate their experiences and give them confidence.

In this sense technology, such as e-readers, can be both a blessing and a curse in terms of literacy, Golden said, with some readers who might have been intimidated by the number of pages in a traditional book eagerly reading on an e-reader.

In addition, with the U.S. African-American community owning more mobile phones and BlackBerries than the white community, potential exists to tap into a broad market, she added.

“But the problem is that you can either download games or download books, and we don’t know what people are going to download,” she said.

Despite undergoing some struggles with the idea of the new technology, Golden said that the need to emphasize the basics remains more important than ever.

via Technological changes may lead to “reading divide” | The Raw Story.

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