Reports of the death of reading are greatly exaggerated
Do books have a future? Does reading? And what’s the difference?
Digital-age Jeremiahs lament that readers have lost patience for anything longer than a tweet. As our appetite for books dwindles, so too do the virtues in which printed, bound objects once trained us: the willpower to focus on a sustained argument, the curiosity to look beyond the day’s news, even the willingness to be alone.
However, by examining objects on the shelves of the world’s great libraries, book historian Leah Price has discovered that no golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors warned against the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions.
A revealing examination of how readers have interacted with books over the centuries, What We Talk About When We Talk About Books holds lessons for bibliophiles and literature lovers alike.