Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Not Reading Enough?

Mark Morford at the San Fransisco Chronicle mulls over the decline of reading.

See, I love books. Admire and appreciate and adore. Was a lit major at Berkeley, read voraciously, still love to read, still like to consider myself a big consumer of books and deep thinker about bookish issues and ideas and authoralia.

And yet, if I'm painfully honest, I have to admit it: I barely read books anymore. Not nearly like I used to, anyway. Not for a long, long time. And chances are, if you're at all addicted to the new media vortex, neither do you.

I don't read as many books as I once did either, but cable TV, which came into my life in college, was probably the big culprit in that decline. I tended toward magazines and the reference section of the library anyway, so the Internet has actually been a boon to reading in general for me. I still subscribe to several magazines, but I certainly would have never read Mark Morford, or any of the many intelligent and creative people I regularly enjoy online, without the Internet. (An observation; the spellchecker says it should be Internet, not internet.) I think the thrill of the hunt may be part of the enjoyment; finding something interesting amid all the dreck. In that sense it's similar to a trip to the library or bookstore, except that I sit on my lazy rump.


Unknown said...

I should read more than I do--something I'm trying to make up for right now. It's my job, after all--I teach composition, literature and creative writing, and reading is a fundamental part of that.

If I factor in my internet time, I read even more than I did when I was younger. I'm more varied now. Problem is, for the sake of my career, I should be reading more specifically than I do.

Dale said...

I think the internets have been a great boon to reading but quite possibly a threat to book publishing and certainly a threat to book stores.

Via the web, we have access to countless discussions and summaries and criticisms, and this can lead us to books if/when we wish to follow up.

I still read a fair number of old-fashioned books (about as many as ever), and I'm led to most of them through the web. But I also pick up a lot of "Cliff's Notes" versions on the web.

I wonder about the long-term fate of books as we understand them. I also wonder about the long-term fate of literacy, but these don't have to be the same thing.