The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

by Alan Jacobs
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The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs

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 uptick in 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 absorbed the 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's classic 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, reading responsively, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199747498
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/26/2011
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 187,523
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Alan Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Baylor University. 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.

Table of Contents

Yes, we can
All in your head
Slowly, slowly
True confessions
Abbot Hugh's advice
The triumphant return of Adler and Van Doren
Plastic attention
Getting schooled
Quiet, please
One more, with feeling
Judge, Jury, Executioner
In solitude, for company
How it all started

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Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone who has been jaded by required reading lists, assigned reading, and a Mortimer-Adleresque approach to books, Jacobs' voice melts the ice of pedantry. Jacobs urges his reader to think carefully about what she spends her time thinking about and reading, taking special note of the challenges of reading in a digital age. I found this book to be a pleasurable read from beginning to end, and it has helped to rejuvenate my long lost love of getting lost in a good book. I definitely recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I owe a lot to the author because this book helped me rediscover the beauty of books. My career had taken up nearly all of my life. The rest was filled by TV, the internet, or other distractions. The book ignited my firey pashion for reading that had diminished long ago.
Miss_OHara More than 1 year ago
For anyone who's ever struggled with what they should read versus what they want to read, this is the book for you. Jacobs covers a variety of topics related to which books to read and why (or rather, why you should read whatever you want), reading in an age filled with technology, and reading as a sort of community within its solitude. Excellently written. Highly recommend!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my Nook after the article in the Chronicle and unfortunately it won't open. Customer service was able to replicate the issue so they refunded my money. I really wanted to read it but due an issue with the publisher, the book won't open. This is just really unfortunate and ironic considering the book is about e-reading. I'd like to be able to read it, but I can't so I'm giving it two stars.