Friday, December 28, 2007

Reasons to be concerned

Things are all over the place at the moment with family coming and going so no book reading. But as I waited at Heathrow airport for my brother to fly in from Newark there was an opportunity to get through most of an interesting article in the New Yorker about the prospect that American’s might stop reading. Using statistics that mirror the sort you see about UK reading levels the article by Caleb Crain paints a scenario where reading is marginalised to a select few.

“There’s no reason to think that reading and writing are about to become extinct, bur some sociologists speculate that reading books for pleasure will one day be the province of a special ‘reading class’. Much as it was before the arrival of mass literacy, in the second half of the nineteenth century.”

It felt odd reading about a scenario when we return to the 19th century on the same day that rickets started to reappear in children with some people blaming video games for keeping children out of sunlight.

Reading is not just a leisure activity but holds the key to knowledge and encouraging people to look beyond their narrow horizons. Lose that and society will be a great deal poorer and more frightening as a result.


Eloise said...

It's a scary thought, but I'm optimistically dubious, if only because of books like Harry Potter, which show how many people do read. What people read, with the classics sections in bookshops being squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces, is another matter...
Happy new year!

simon quicke said...

Good point Eloise you are right - just look at Richard & Judy.
Happy New Year to you as well.