Is reading dead?

Posted by Otis Chandler on April 12, 2008
A journalist asked me the other day "Do you think reading is dead?". I'm aware people have the perception that people reading less these days. And it doesn't help that the National Endowment for the Arts keeps releasing studies that say so.

Personally I don't think its true for most people - if you like to read you will always read, even if you don't have much time now - you will later.

My favorite answer to that journalists question is to spout off something about reading just needing a social conduit. With mass-media, like American Idol or whatever movies are in theater, we can always find common ground with other people. But the chances that we are reading the same books at the same time is low. But if we were both on Goodreads it might be able to spark a conversation about books.

But I think there is another reason reading isn't dead that I don't get to talk about much, probably because it sounds nerdy. I'm one of those crazy people who likes to *learn*. Learn about new places, people, cultures, ideas - whatever. The things I've learned in books have helped define me as a person. And I'm always able to take away ideas from whatever I'm reading to attack the problems I'm facing in the real world.

Some people wouldn't think that you can learn things from a work of fiction - but learning is an experiential process. That means we remember things by associating them with how we learned them. Conversely, that also means we need to experience things to really learn them. And if you have an active enough imagination, a good book is all you need.

I just read a a very well-written blog posted titled How to Fuel Your Idea Machine that put it's finger on how reading helps us even better - go read it!

A choice quote:

"Reading books, fiction and non-fiction, fuels your idea machine. It gives you fodder to think with. The brain is essentially nothing more than a computer (albeit much more complicated); it takes an input, processes it and produces an output. In other words, you can’t create ideas without inputs."

So is reading dead? Not to me :)

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Good post. Fiction has truths of its own, at least the stuff we call literature. I'm also amazed at the research that goes into the creation of quality novels. Ian McEwan spent two years with a neurosurgeon in order to write Saturday>, and a mystery I read a long time ago and don't even remember the title of had lots of research on the paper money is printed upon.

I have always been a reader. Ironically, I had the least time to read when I was teaching high school English, with its stacks of student comps and ongoing research and lesson planning. Since retirement I have returned to the connection between reading and relaxation, and I couldn't enjoy it more.



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