The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

Hardcover | June 1, 2011

byAlan Jacobs

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In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way. In this book, Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted readers supporting hundreds of enormous bookstores and online booksellers. Oprah's Book Club is hugely influential, and a recent NEA survey reveals an actual uptickin the reading of literary fiction. Jacobs's interactions with his students and the readers of his own books, however, suggest that many readers lack confidence; they wonder whether they are reading well, with proper focus and attentiveness, with due discretion and discernment. Many have absorbedthe puritanical message that reading is, first and foremost, good for you - the intellectual equivalent of eating your Brussels sprouts. For such people, indeed for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, and do so without shame, whether it be Stephen King or the King James Version of the Bible. In contrast to the more methodical approach of Mortimer Adler'sclassic How to Read a Book (1940), Jacobs offers an insightful, accessible, and playfully irreverent guide for aspiring readers. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of approaching literary fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and the book explores everything from the invention of silent reading, readingresponsively, rereading, and reading on electronic devices. Invitingly written, with equal measures of wit and erudition, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction will appeal to all readers, whether they be novices looking for direction or old hands seeking to recapture the pleasures of reading they first experienced as children.

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From the Publisher

In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way. In this book, Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted reader...

Alan Jacobs is a professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. His books include The Narnian, a biography of C.S. Lewis, Original Sin: A Cultural History, and a Theology of Reading. His literary and cultural criticism has appeared in the Boston Globe, The American Scholar, and the Oxford American.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:June 1, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199747490

ISBN - 13:9780199747498

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Table of Contents

Yes, we canWhimAll in your headAspirationsUpstreamResponsivenessKindlingSlowly, slowlyTrue confessionsLostAbbot Hugh's adviceThe triumphant return of Adler and Van DorenPlastic attentionGetting schooledQuiet, pleaseOne more, with feelingJudge, Jury, ExecutionerIn solitude, for companySerendipHow it all started