The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

I often lament the fact that the average American watches 38 hours of television per week but only reads one book per year. I shouldn’t get too excited about averages. Alan Jacobs, professor of the humanities at Baylor University, sets out to make the case that reading is alive and well with large bookstores both online and off being supported by large numbers of book clubs and readers of all ages. Because most teachers have instilled in us that reading is good for us, many see the task like eating their vegetables. It’s something they know they should do but they worry about whether they are doing it correctly and often enough.

For these worriers over whether they are reading enough or reading the right things the right way Jacobs’ new book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, has some simple advice: “read at whim, read whatever gives you delight, and do so without shame, whether it be Stephen King or the King James Version of the Bible.”

Overall this is a fun read and Jacobs actually pulls off a book about reading books because of his extensive knowledge and well-researched themes. I only wish more students would be taught this approach at an earlier age. In a recent weekly fax, I harpooned young college students who are now having problems finishing entire textbooks assigned by their teachers and are apparently “unable to grasp complex philosophies and problems” in the reading because they have become so accustomed to near-constant distraction throughout their days.

Turn off the cell phone and the television and plop down on a lazy weekend and finish this book in a few hours. You will be glad you did. I’ve gifted this book to scores of clients who have expressed an interest in becoming a better reader. If you have a similar person in your life, I highly suggest the same.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.