10.30.2009

Reading in the News

Book a Day
How long does it take you to read a book? Can you read one in a day? Nina Sankovitch says she can and has just completed a year of reading 365 of them. She claims she read the novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog in a day. I recall it took me the better part of a week, perhaps more. I don’t know how she does it. Not only that, but she has also posted a daily review of each of the books she’s read on her blog. She says: To read a great book is a gift. A gift from the author to me, and when I pass that book on, it is the best kind of re-gift, a sharing of pleasure and joy and knowledge to the reader who receives it. Read more…

e-Textbooks
Amazon has recently given more than 200 college students its Kindle loaded with digital textbooks required in fall semester courses. Students have mixed views about the device. Some miss the ease of highlighting text and making notes in the margins. A student at Arizona State tried typing notes on the Kindle’s small keyboard but found the notes were unreadable when she went back to review them. She commented, I like the aspect of writing something down on paper and having it be so easy and just kind of writing whatever comes to my mind. Read more…

Free Newspapers
The Times reports that newspaper readership in this country continues to decline. The latest figures indicate that weekday newspaper sales are down more than 10% since last year. Much of this decrease appears to be due to rising Internet readership, the current recession, and newspaper price increases. The French with their usual √©lan have come up with a novel solution to this problem. They are offering young (18-24) readers) a free subscription to a newspaper of their choice. Read more…

Brain and e-Books
Is there a difference in learning and retention, to say nothing of motivation to read further between paper books and e-books? In my view these are the central questions that stand in need of investigation. Nowadays these questions are framed in terms of how the brain processes the two modes of presentation and the neural pathways that may be activated in each mode. Neuroscience investigators are far from agreeing on the matter. Read more…

End of Reading
In an interview with Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker, Philip Roth predicts that reading novels will virtually disappear in the next twenty-five years and that those who continue to do so will constitute a “minority cult.” He says, the book can’t compete with the screen and “the concentration and focus required to read a novel is becoming less and less prevalent, as potential readers turn instead to computers or to television.” His remarks lead me to wonder if fiction readers ever comprised more than a minority of the population.

His views on the future of reading are not new. Nine years ago in a New Yorker profile, he said: “Every year, seventy readers die and only two are replaced. That’s a very easy way to visual it. Readers means people who read serious books seriously and consistently. The evidence is everywhere that the literary era has come to an end.” Read more…