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The Edge of the Precipice: Why Read Literature in the Digital Age?

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  26 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Can a case be made for reading literature in the digital age? Does literature still matter in this era of instant information? Is it even possible to advocate for serious, sustained reading with all manner of social media distracting us, fragmenting our concentration, and demanding short, rapid communication? In The Edge of the Precipice, Paul Socken brings together a ...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published August 19th 2013 by McGill-Queen's University Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Apr 03, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it
What will become of reading? In particular, what will become of reading and engaging what have been considered the great works of literature from various cultures (no canon arguments here!)? With the advent of digital media with writing that comes to us in blog posts, tweets, and laced with visual content, what will happen to sitting down to read a long work like Don Quixote or War and Peace? With the growing emphasis on STEM education in our highly technological economy, will reading that seems ...more
Todd Stockslager
May 31, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Review title: Why read what matters?
This slim fast-reading collection of essays tackles the title question from many perspectives along two main tangents.

The place of ink on paper reading vs pixels on screen
The place of long form prose (literature) vs. wikipedia sized blocks of text

Books have been losing ground for several years, as libraries stock ebooks and bookstores close doors. I travel for work quite frequently and it is now clear that serious traveling readers all have an ereader, and it
John Adkins
Oct 28, 2013 John Adkins rated it really liked it
Paul Socken, a retired professor of French Studies at the University of Waterloo, has brought together a wide variety of essayist in this volume to answer the question, "Why read literature in the digital age?" Respondents were asked to focus upon the act specifically on reading literature as opposed to non-fiction, news or other genres.

The strength of the work is the wide varieties of responses in the included essays. Some wrote of the joy of owning real books, others talked of the aesthetic p
Jan 23, 2014 Ann rated it liked it
Shelves: language-books
This book is a collection of essays written by academics and writers, about the love of reading. Some focus on the pleasures associated with the physical (paper) book, as opposed to e-readers. Others bemoan the fact that reading "serious" literature, and studying the skills necessary for decoding literature, are becoming less and less attractive to university administrators and students alike. Another essay points out that reading is essentially a lonely activity, and that no amount of social ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This collection of essays talks mainly about the importance of reading and notes the steady decline of reading novels and nonfiction for pleasure. The students by the professors of these essays have declined in the number of readers of traditional books. Many point to certain gains in new media and internet savvy but lament the loss of deep focused thinking that comes with reading. Some have noted that the decline began in the middle of the twentieth century with movies and television but has ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Phil rated it really liked it
Interesting stuff. As the title suggests, it's a series of essays pondering why it's still important to read literature (or even just plain old books if you're looking to make distinctions) in the digital age. It would be easy for a book like this to appeal strongly to a narrow audience by just having a bunch of literary types smugly pat each other on the back for reading classics while everyone else is on Tumblr, but it doesn't really do that. There is some smug here, but most of the essays ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-reading
Okay, I got sidetracked by this one. It was sitting on that wonderful display of new books at the library. This display usually shows new books that are rather esoteric and I always find something to distract me, or even better, something I had read about and wanted to read.

So I thought this was not going to be that great because it looked a bit forlorn, without any big endorsements, then I read the essay my Alberto Manguel. Oh, Alberto, where have you been all my life?

Then I read two more - thi
Feb 06, 2014 Leif rated it liked it
A bit variable in quality, but overall these essays are engaging, convivial, and active works of reflection and thought: highlights are essays by J Hillis Miller, Sven Birkerts, and a reprint by Alberto Manguel. Enough here to get the brain going for a couple of days at least.
Jan 13, 2014 Sinistmer rated it liked it
I found this collection to be an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. I enjoyed reading about the contributors' experiences with reading and their take on reading in the digital age.

I like that the collection presented different ways of advocacy and highlighted places to concentrate.

Worth a read if this topic interests you.
Marco Goldin
May 14, 2014 Marco Goldin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Too bad Kindle app doesn't allow copy-and-past, 'cause i would have posted tons of quotes from this book. There's so much in it and it's so dense, every single page has so many things going on. My favourite? Michael Austin. I mean, reading "War and Peace" in the fast-content age? It got me working through "Infinite Jest" once more.
Apr 12, 2014 Lou rated it liked it
Some incisive comments about the value of literature and the "usefulness" of digital resources, however, somewhat repetitive and sometimes rather precious.
Leon Phillips
Apr 26, 2014 Leon Phillips rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection of personal essays discussing why literature is still important in the digital age. SO many reminders of why I love reading and NOT Netflix.
Jim Ferry
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Oct 19, 2014 Jim added it
Great essays
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