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The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

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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 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.

162 pages, Hardcover

First published April 25, 2011

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About the author

Alan Jacobs

54 books480 followers
I grew up in Alabama, attended the University of Alabama, then got my PhD at the University of Virginia. Since 1984 I have been teaching at Wheaton College in Illinois. My dear wife Teri and I have been married for thirty years. Our son Wes begins college this fall, and to our shock, decided to go to Wheaton. I think he will avoid Dad, though.

My work is hard to describe, at least for me, because it revolves around multiple interests, primary among them being literature, theology, and technology. I also watch soccer and write about it, but that's purely recreational.

You can find out a lot more about me online: Twitter, Tumblr, my blog, my home page. Google is the friend of inquiring minds.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 538 reviews
Profile Image for Majeed Estiri.
Author 6 books472 followers
March 1, 2022

امتیاز اصلی ام 4.5 است

1. کتاب یک سیر خیلی جالب را طی میکند. ابتدا کتابخوانی با حس «انجام وظیفه» را کاملا نقد میکند و نشان میدهد هرگونه فهرستی از بهترین کتابهایی که باید حتما بخوانیم بیخود است. (من کاملا با این ایده موافق نیستم) و نوعی خواندن بر اساس «هوس» را پیشنهاد میدهد. سپس همین خواندن هوس آلود را از جهات مختلف تکمیل میکند و به شکلی نواقص آن را برطرف میکند اما کاملا دقت میکند که به خواندن استادانه و براساس انجام وظیفه نزدیک نشود. رهنمودهایی که در این بخش میدهد (مثل واکنشگری در برابر کتابها و یا جستجوی منابع بالادست هر کتاب) واقعا جالب و راهگشا هستند. البته من گمان نمیکنم مخاطبانی که آن طور هوس آلود کتاب انتخاب کنند چندان این رهنمودها را جدی بگیرند

2. این کتاب چندین بار ایده های «نیکلاس کار» در کتاب خواندنی «اینترنت با مغز ما چه می کند؟» را نقد میکند و در انتها این کتاب را بدبینانه معرفی میکند. خب من چون همین ماه پیش کتاب نیکلاس کار را خواندم میتوانم شهادت بدهم که کتاب او واقعا کتاب عمیق و دقیقی است و اصلا هم بدبینانه نیست. خیلی از این کتاب علمی تر و واقع بینانه تر است. کتاب آقای جیکوب اساسا با یک نگرش متذوقانه نوشته شده و من به عنوان یک ادبیات خوانده گواهی میدهم ادبیاتی ها کمی «از مرحله پرت هستند!» و خبر ندارند دنیا دست کیست و دنیا را آب ببرد آنها را خواب میبرد و... باز هم بگویم؟! پس از یک ادبیاتی توقع نداشته باشید به شما بگوید که در عصر اینترنت آینده کتاب چه خواهدشد

3. بز مخالف بودم آنجایی بود که میگفت خریدن کیندل باعث شده که تمرکزش در خواندن کتاب افزایش پیدا کند چون در کیندل به راحتی کتاب کاغذی نمیتوانسته حاشیه نویسی کند و زیر مطالب خط بکشد و این حرفها! خب این هم دلیلی دیگر برای اثبات این که ادبیاتی ها در همه جای دنیا از مرحله پرت هستند! برادر من، آیا نمیدانی که کیندل و هر کتابخوان دیگری همین فردا هزار جور ابزار وسوسه کننده برای حاشیه نویسی در اختیار تو خواهدگذاشت که از ��بان خاص علامت گذاری تو خیلی کاربردی تر و البته همه فهم تر است؟ و آیا به قول نیکلاس کار نمیدانی که در عصر «هایپرتکست» زندگی میکنیم؟ همه کلمات یک رمان قابل جستجو در اینترنت هستند و این یعنی هر قدمی که برمیداری امکان دارد زیر پایت خالی بشود! حالا چطوری میخواهی تمرکز کنی؟

4. از جمله نقدهای دیگرم به این کتاب آن است که حساب «رمان ژانر» را از ادبیات جدا نمیکند. این بحثی دامنه دار است که من یک بار در همین گودریدز سعی کردم از اهل کتاب درباره ش استمزاج کنم اما حاصلی نداشت. وقتی یک نوجوان هری پاتر میخواند قطعا دارد کتاب میخواند و حتی رمان میخواند و پرچمش بالاست و بر نوجوانی که در حال بازی کامپیوتری میکند برتری دارد و درود بر او! اما آیا او دارد ادبیات میخواند؟

به هر روی خواندن کتاب را به همه شما عشاق کتاب توصیه میکنم چون مملو از جملات حکمت آمیز درباره کتابخوانی است. و از آن مهم تر به هر حال کتابی بینش بخش است.

ریویوی بنده را اینجا بخوانید تا بتوانید از ذیل این متن دریای متلاطم حکمت های کتاب مرواریدهایی صید کنید
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,152 followers
October 6, 2021
„Hey, teachers, leave them kids alone!”
Pink Floyd

Ideea principală a cărții e că trebuie să citim după bunul nostru plac și chef. „Read at whim...” este îndemnul autorului. Faptul că sîntem în căutarea plăcerii nu trebuie să ne rușineze. Vom citi numai ce ne place. În definitiv, plăcerea diferențiază cărțile, cele bune ne plac, cele proaste, nu.

Jacobs nu pare să știe (a) că plăcerile sînt de mai multe feluri (unele sînt „dificile”, cu expresia lui Harold Bloom) și (b) că, adeseori, citim din cu totul alte motive decît plăcerea. Și asta fără să ne oblige vreo listă, fără să fim constrînși de părerea criticilor literari cu autoritate. Plăcerea e ceva care rezultă, nu ceva care precedă actul lecturii. Jacobs nu explică în ce chip optezi pentru o carte care îți va plăcea (sau nu)? După titlu? Dar un titlu poate să fie interesant / plăcut și, în același timp, să numească o carte plictisitoare. Cînd cauți numai plăcerea, nu poți ieși din arbitrar. După cîte pagini decizi că un roman o să-ți placă? După 5? După 50? Autorul nu spune. Și nu spune dintr-un motiv foarte simplu: plăcerea e un efect nu o cauză, dar nu poate fi justificarea unei opțiuni.

Sigur, am înțeles că Alan Jacobs este un critic anti-canon: „Read at whim, without shame and for pleasure”. Dar concluzia cărții e greșită. Autorul pare să creadă că abia dacă nu citești de nevoie, citești de plăcere. Mă îndoiesc...

Despre cărțile mari care nu se citesc de plăcere nu voi scrie nimic. Și așa m-am lungit nepermis de mult.

P. S. M-am mai gîndit: există o singură soluție rațională.
Pasul 1: citești fără mofturi 1000 de cărți.
Pasul 2: notezi cu + cărțile care ți-au plăcut și cu - restul.
Pasul 3: numeri cîte cărți ai cu +.
Pasul 4 și ultimul: dacă ai măcar una, te apuci s-o recitești; dacă n-ai, te apuci de mîncat colțunași...

P. P. S. Așadar, nu poți să citești de plăcere fără să citești de nevoie.
Profile Image for Happyreader.
544 reviews82 followers
September 12, 2011
You have to love a lit professor who counsels you to step away from the “must read list” and if you’re afraid of others judging you for not reading the proper books, lie. Tell them you read War and Peace and just read the synopsis on Wikipedia to get the plot gist.

The author goes to great lengths to avoid presenting a “how to be a better reader” tract. He hates that many people read purely for information or because they feel they must read certain books. His goal is to have you rediscover joy in your reading – yet he hasn’t let go of the goal of improving the quality of books you read. He just wants you to discover those “good” books yourself, rather than having them prescribed for you and turning them into the mind broccoli you must grudgingly consume between skimming blog posts.

Bottom line, his advice includes stepping away from the Internet, choosing your books based on Whim, not rushing to finish your books (yet don’t be too lackadaisical either since you’ll lose the book’s train of thought), creating a cone of silence, and getting yourself a Kindle. Yes, this book could be called An Ode to My Kindle, his point being that the Kindle’s format makes it difficult to flip back and forth in books, helping you focus (I agree).

Regardless of whether you decide to commit to an old-fashioned paper tome or a new-fangled e-reader, the promised reward for committing to an Internet-free afternoon or evening of concentrated reading is a state of contented bliss brought on by your rapt attention. Something not achieved by continually quick-scanning blog posts.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,587 reviews2,310 followers
February 25, 2015
“Twice in your life you know you are approved of by everyone—when you learn to walk and when you learn to read.” ~ Penelope Fitzgerald

I doubt few of us here on Goodreads need to be reminded of the pleasures of reading. It's something we experience every day, as much and as often as time permits.

Here Jacobs discusses how his reading habits have changed since the advent (and distractions) of electronic devices:

I get twitchy within just a few minutes of sitting down with a book—I have noticed that my hand will start reaching for my iPhone without my consciously telling it to, as though I am becoming a digital-era (but I hope slightly less creepy) Dr. Strangelove. About two years ago, I realized that I was reading fewer books than I had since age ten, and reading them less well—with less attention—and therefore getting less pleasure from the reading.

He praises the Kindle as having helped to keep him focused on his reading. He covers a wealth of book related topics, such as ways of encouraging children to read and whether or not libraries should be quiet monuments to study and reflection, or chat-filled, gathering places for the community. He also points out the folly of adhering to "Books to Read Before You Die" lists instead of following your own whims.

This book is best enjoyed for the multitude of literary quotes and anecdotes scattered throughout.

My favorite?

Brendan Gill tells a story about the American writer John O'Hara, who, among his many accomplishments, wrote the book for the Broadway musical Pal Joey: when some friends passed him on the streets of New York and told him that they had just seen Pal Joey again and had enjoyed it even more than they had the first time, O’Hara snapped, “What was wrong with it the first time?”
Profile Image for Aaron Choi.
76 reviews17 followers
September 28, 2011
I loved this book. A helpful corrective to the "bucket list" approach to reading, Jacobs is even willing to take some shots at the venerable, "How to Read a Book" (Adler & Van Doren). Perhaps verging on blasphemous to literary enthusiasts, the book is also a necessary voice of admonition in an age when we are all susceptible to veering toward a list like, "10 Books Everyone Should Read," and its related variants. Jacobs speaks about the importance of reading based on whim (or rather, Whim), re-reading, and is even refreshingly open to the aid of technology to the task of reading. The book challenges and confronts what seems to be axiomatic principles of reading and I felt more than a little rebuked by Jacobs on a number of occasions -- and welcomed it gladly, sadistic child that I am. Jacobs speaks with humility, yet is bold enough to point a finger at the elitism inherent within bibliophiles and calls us out on some of our most valued beliefs. At the risk of usurping much of what he took pains at length to eradicate, I'd like to label the book a "must" read -- especially for YOU. Why you? Because you're on Goodreads, which means you love books, which means you'd profit from much of what the professor would have to say. I believe you'll find his thesis convincing, maybe even liberating! I'd also like to note that this is likely going to change the way I do "reviews" on Goodreads, and hopefully for the better.
Profile Image for محمد شفیعی.
Author 3 books100 followers
April 2, 2019
کتاب بدی نبود، ولی چند گروه مخاطب داشت:
۱- کسایی که میخوان بقیه رو به کتابخونی دعوت و تشویق کنن
۲- کسایی که یه روزگاری کتاب خون بودن ولی الآن کم میخونن و دوست دارن به دوران اوج برگردن
۳- کسایی که دوست دارن کتابخون بشن و یه کم گیجن که چی و چطوری بخونیم

نقطه ضعفشم این بود که مثالها و اشاراتی که داشت خیلی به زندگی و فرهنگ مردم آمریکا نزدیک بود و شاید برای ما حس کردنش سخت بود...
در مورد کتاب در کانالم بیشتر خواهم نوشت دوست داشتید ببینید:
t.me/mohammadalishafiee
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books50.6k followers
July 26, 2013
This book is best enjoyed slowly, a few pages at a time. I expected Jacobs to be stuffy, but he won my heart when he called Harold Bloom a snob. Lots of good nuggets and insights for book lovers.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
Author 2 books208 followers
Want to read
March 22, 2022
At least partly a response to Adler. In The Lost Seeds of Learning, Donnelly calls this book "the literary counterpart" to Cal Newport's Deep Work.

Alissa Wilkinson's review is here, where she also reviews Tony Reinke's Lit! More on reading for fun, by J. I. Packer.

Jimmy Kimmel recently (May 2018) cited a Pew Research Center study (March 2018) that reported that only about 1 in 4 people read a book last year; Kimmel send a team out to ask people to name a book—any book, such as the Bible or Fifty Shades of Grey. It did not go well.
Profile Image for Mor‌TeZa.
198 reviews75 followers
August 6, 2018
|\| | |_ @ ® > M0127324:
کتاب شیرین و خوبی بود..
اما نه به شیرینی و خوشخوانی سایر کتاب های نشر ترجمان در حوزه کتاب های درباره کتاب.

قطعا کتاب بازهای قهار از خوندن کتاب لذت میبرند و نکات خیلی جالب و شیرین و وصف الحال گونه متعدد در کتاب خواهند یافت، اما ترجمه نه چندان خوب و یکدست، ارجاعات بیش از حد و ابهامات کتاب گاه عیش مدام انسان رو منقوص میکنه.

نمره من به کتاب از منظر ذوقی چهار و از دیدگاه کيفی سه است.
Profile Image for Ramón Nogueras Pérez.
503 reviews216 followers
September 19, 2020
Alan Jacobs es un tesoro para la humanidad, de verdad os lo digo. Su newsletter (Snakes & Ladders), es una alegría cada vez que llega a mi buzón, y su blog y los otros medios donde publica me parecen lecturas imprescindibles.

Este es un canto de amor al acto de leer, es una guía de las diferentes maneras de leer, es una explicación de por qué es tan difícil leer cuando es algo que nos hace tan felices. Es una historia de cómo ha sido leer a lo largo de la historia, de por qué leer a tus hijos es un acto de amor hacia ellos, y es una conciliación entre el libro de papel y el digital, por parte de un lector apasionado que usa ambos. Es una explicación de por qué hay que leer muchas veces con lápiz y tomando notas, y a veces hay que leer sin escribir y sólo sumergirse.

Alan Jacobs es uno de los pensadores más humildes, generosos y brillantes que pueden encontrarse por ahí. A pesar de venir de una posición diametralmente opuesta a la mía, siendo él un ferviente católico y yo un ateo convencido, argumenta sus tesis de una manera tal que siempre te tomarías un café con él. Es un ejemplo a seguir.
Profile Image for Babak.
85 reviews65 followers
March 19, 2020
چند صفحه‌ای از کتاب مونده، اما با خودم نمی‌برمش به سال بعد! کتاب همونطور که از اسمش برمیاد، در مورد خوندنه. اما خیلی قرار نیست به کسایی که اهل کتاب نیستند کمک کنه تا توی این روزگار حواس‌پرتی اهل کتاب بشند. همون اول، نویسنده مخاطب‌های کتابش رو مشخص کرده و نوشته: "خواننده بداند؛ آنان که همیشه از خواندن بیزار، یا نسبت به آن بی‌تفاوت بوده‌اند ممکن است چیز دندان‌گیری در این کتاب نیابند. اما آنان که جرعه‌ای از جام مالامال از لذت، خرد و شادیِ خواندن را نوشیده‌اند، حتی اگر مدت‌ها پیش بوده باشد، مخاطبانی هستند که این کتاب برایشان نوشته شده است."
کتاب نکات خیلی زیاد و بعضاً پراکنده‌ای داره که فقط یه وجه اشتراک دارند: کتاب؛ نکاتی که نویسنده بهش اشاره کرده بعضاً جالب و کاربردی هستند و شاید به چشم خیلی از کتاب‌خوان‌های حرفه‌ای هم نیاد. نویسنده سعی کرده خیلی از کلیشه‌های موجود در مورد خوندن رو بشکنه و از دنیای جدیدی به کتاب نگاه کنه. یه جاهایی پراکندگی مطالب ذهن رو به هم میریزه، و توی کتاب به کلی نویسنده و خواننده‌ی کتاب اشاره شده که یه ذره متن رو شلوغ کرده و عامل حواس‌پرتی شده. و کتاب خیلی به نظرم از نظر فرهنگی، آمریکاییه. شاید برای ما مخاطبای ایرانی خیلی از مسائلش غریب باشه که برای من حقیقتاً اینطور بود. شاید اگه میشد یه ذره کتاب رو ایرانیزه کرد، اثر جالب‌تری ازش بیرون میومد.
Profile Image for Anna.
269 reviews92 followers
January 11, 2019
3.5 stars, rounded up.
A nice discourse on 21st century readerly anxieties -- our deficient attention spans, our ambitions and egos about the books we read and how school has both helped and harmed our reading habits. Jacobs's style is ironically a little distracting at times; his sentences are very long, if clever, and he interrupts almost every page with a foot note that takes up half the space for regular text on several two-page spreads -- but I liked this a lot, even though I was glad when I finished it.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,027 followers
December 20, 2012
Well, I'm not really sure I needed to read this. First of all because Professor Alan Jacobs is preaching to the choir. I love to read, and read on whims all the time, as he recommends. Second of all, he quotes heavily from 3-4 texts, two of which I've read recently (The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and the commencement address to Kenyon by DFW). However it is a short read (150 pages of text, many many big blocks of quotations, 12 pages of endnotes) and offers a perspective on why we should not read from lists, or to read classics just to cross them off the list. Unlike many traditionalist reading snobs, he isn't anti-eBook either, in fact reading eBooks may have given him back the love of reading.

Most of what I like the best, Jacobs is quoting from someone else.

"If a man is keen on reading, I think he ought to open his mind to some older man who knows him and his life, and to take his advice in the matter, and above all, to discuss with him the first books that interest him." - Rudyard Kipling

I'd like to rewrite it as:

"If a [woman] is keen on reading... [she] ought to open [her] mind to some older [person] who knows [her] and [her] life, and to take his advice in the matter... and to discuss with him... books that interest [her.]" and that's pretty much my reading journey. Hooray.

Another good gem comes from the poet L. E. Sissman:
"A list of books that you reread is like a clearing in the forest: a level, clean, well-lighted place where you set down your burdens and set up your home, your identity, your concerns, your continuity in a world that is at best indifferent, at worst malign. Since you, the reader, are that hero of modern literature, the existential loner, the smallest denominator of moral force, it behooves you to take counsel, sustenance, and solace from the writers who have been writing about you these hundred or five hundred years, to sequester yourself with their books and read and reread them...."

I liked the thoughts on rereading. I am always struggling to balance all the new books I want to read with the feeling of wanting to revisit some books... Gravity's Rainbow, Ulysses (already, yes, I know), Dickens, etc., etc.

The author quotes most extensively from the poet W. H. Auden; surely this must be one of his specialties or something. Regardless, I love this little bit about the five reactions to something a reader encounters:
"I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don't like it; I can see this is good, and, though at present I don't like it, I believe with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don't like it."

Perhaps I'll renumber my rating system this way, although there isn't really room for ambivalence here.

Jacobs talks about the desire to read MORE, to read FASTER, and why this might not be such a good thing. I'm not sure I agree. Probably because I get criticized for reading too much all of the time. And, after all, I'm always feeling like there is not going to be enough time for all the reading I want to do!

More than anything, I'm going to use the annotated bibliography for this book, to add to my list of books to read. Okay, it is possible that I did not exactly take his message to heart, which might be decidedly anti-list.
Profile Image for Kusaimamekirai.
642 reviews213 followers
July 10, 2018
“Be conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”-David Foster Wallace

Ironic perhaps, but this little book about the pleasures of reading filled me with such immense pleasure. Jacobs makes it very clear that he doesn’t want to tell us what to read but rather introduces some concepts he believes enrich our reading experience. Among them is the concept of “whim”. Don’t make long lists of books you want to read in a certain order. Lists are fine (please do not look at the number of books in my “want to read” folder) but don’t be a slave to them. Simply put, read what you want, when you want and don’t be afraid to put down a book you don’t enjoy. Jacobs writes of his own experience:

“Indeed, I was twenty years old before I failed to finish a book I had started: it was The Recognitions, a novel by William Gaddis, and I gave up, after an extended period of moral paralysis, at page 666. That day I grieved, feeling that I had been forced from some noble pedestal; but I woke up the next morning with my soul singing. After all, though I would never get back the hours I had devoted to those 666 pages, the hours I would have spent ploughing through the remaining four hundred were mine to spend as I would. I had been granted time as a pure and sweet gift.”

Are you nodding your head? I did. There is joy in reading just as there is joy in being free from the oppressive misery of a book you don’t like.
Jacobs also extols the joys of rereading. This is something that I rarely do for most of the reasons he describes such as wanting to read something new, feeling you “got it” the first time, or in the case of a lengthy book just being unwilling to commit the time to it. His argument for rereading is that a book we’ve read at one point in our life may reveal more or different things at a different point. In addition, if a particular book gave you joy, and you remember that joy, why the unwillingness to explore that same joy again?
The argument that Jacobs repeatedly returns to is the act of reading slowly and quietly. In a world that is constantly vying for our attention and with our senses on constant overload from screens, noises, and other sources, there is something to be said for just being silent. I love the quote he uses here from Stefan Zweig that:

“(A book is) a handful of silence that assuages torment and unrest.”

Get out of my head Stefan Zweig! How brilliant and true is that statement? It’s one that I’ve always felt, even if I could never articulate it as beautifully as Zweig.
This slow reading also involves reading for the sake of reading, not solely for the sake of picking out the bits you think are relevant. Because really, how would you know what you really need from the book without reading it in its entirety. Jacobs uses the example of Google search:

“The blessing of Google is its uncanny skill in finding what you’re looking for; the curse is that it so rarely finds any of those lovely odd things you’re not looking for.”

Another head nodding moment! Much like the argument I use with my car driving friends when they get upset that I don’t drive, Google, cars, and books can get you from A to B but how much between that is lost in the name of speed? It is not only the side roads, cafes, and (in Japan) small shrines you would never notice in the case of solely relying on cars that are lost. With books, it is the insights from someone’s experience that may enrich our own that are lost to us when we focus solely on “efficiency”.

I could prattle on and on about this book and bore you to death with how much of it resonates with my own experience. Instead, I’ll say if you love books or feel an inexpressible compulsion to read them, pick this one up for yourself. You may be surprised how much it resonates with your own life like it did with mine.
Profile Image for سيامك محبوب.
16 reviews8 followers
March 6, 2018
توصیهٔ کتاب عمل خیرخواهانه و خوبی به نظر می‌آید. اما شاید ندانیم توصیه به خواندن کتابهایی خاص بدون شناخت خواننده، تا چه حد به وی آسیب می‌زند . گاه این آسیب تا آنجاست که شخصی را برای همیشه از خواندن دور و بعضاً متنفر می‌کند. یکی از مزایای خواندن این کتاب آن است که ما را نسبت به توصیه‌هایمان آگاه‌تر می‌کند.
دیگر اینکه با خوا��دن این کتاب، پی می‌بریم خواندن بدون لذت تا چه حد می‌تواند کار نادرستی باشد. برای اینکه با لذت بخوانیم باید به هوس پناه بیاوریم. اما هوس چیست؟ نویسنده میان دو نوع هوس که یکی ویران‌کننده و دیگری رهایی‌بخش است تفاوت قائل می‌شود و هوسِ رهایی‌بخش را لازمه خواندن لذت‌بخش می‌داند.
این کتاب برای همه توصیه نمی‌شود. مخاطب این کتاب توصیه‌کنندگان و مروجان کتاب، کتابدار ها و کتاب باز ها ، کتابخوار ها و انها که می‌خواهند درباره لذت خواندن بدانند توصیه می‌شود.
Profile Image for Michele.
95 reviews14 followers
December 25, 2011
The caveat lector on the front page of the book explains best who the book is for:

Those who have always disliked reading, or who have been left indifferent by it, may find little of interest here. But those who have caught a glimpse of what reading can give - pleasure, wisdom, joy - even if that glimpse came long ago, are the audience for whom this book was written.

And it is indeed a book that lovers of reading will love. Jacobs' own love of reading comes through in this carefully crafted contemplation of the act and love of reading. From stories about Coleridge's and Darwin's reading practices, to summaries of what cognitive science can tell us about brains as they read, and mirror neurons to explain the pleasure of reading, the text explores why people are readers and how the joy of reading doesn't die with the introduction of electronic forms of reading (a welcome respite from all those who say the book is dying because it's moving to electronic formats). Jacobs makes a distinction between deep and hyper attention when reading and clearly articulates why both might be desirable and that deploring one at the expense of the other is misguided.

If you love books, this a book that will no doubt surprise and delight you at different moments.
Profile Image for Julie.
585 reviews
February 26, 2018
3 1/2 stars

A book for readers about reading - perfect! I did really like this delightful little book and found many worthwhile nuggets. His thoughts on rereading were probably my favorite. A few favorite quotes:

“A first encounter with a worthwhile book is never a complete encounter, and we are usually in error to make it a final one.”

“I mentioned early in this book the kind of rereading distinctive of a fan--the Tolkien addict, say, or the devotee of Jane Austen or Trollope or the Harry Potter books. The return to such books is often motivated by a desire to dwell for a time in a self-contained fictional universe, with its own boundaries and its own rules. (It is a moot question whether Austen and Trollope's first readers were drawn to their novels for these reasons, but their readers today often are.) Such rereading is not purely a matter of escapism, even though that is one reason for its attraction: we should note that it's not what readers are escaping from but that they are escaping into that counts most. Most of us do not find fictional worlds appealing because we find our own lives despicable, though censorious people often make that assumption.”
Profile Image for Noel.
234 reviews138 followers
December 3, 2021
“Nonreaders outnumber us- always have and always will- but we can always find one another and are always eager to welcome others into the fold. May our tribe increase.”

💕🥺

This is a book for readers. For people who love books and fill their lives with them, or for people who once did and are trying to find their way back. It isn’t a book that will tell you how to read and what to read. It’s a book that will make you smile, help you learn to enjoy your reading life even more, help you let go of any guilt about not reading “the right books”, and help you learn how to grow in your reading in way that stretches you and challenges you without draining the joy out of it. It’s a lovely little book, and though it’s short (150 pages) it’s a great book to read slowly. Reading and ruminating on one short chapter each morning has been so wonderful. This is one I’ll come back to again and again over the years.

Highly recommend for all you readers out there. ☺️💕
Profile Image for Bob.
1,780 reviews608 followers
April 22, 2022
Summary: An argument that we should read what we delight in rather than what others think is “good” for us.

Alan Jacobs is not among the prophets of reading doom. He believes we should actually read what we want to rather than following prescribed lists of “great” books that we ought to read. He argues that the most important reason for reading is that it is pleasurable rather than it being “good” for us:

“So this is what I say to my petitioners: for heaven’ sake, don’t turn reading into the intellectual equivalent of eating organic greens, (or shifting the metaphor slightly) some fearfully disciplined appointment with an elliptical trainer of the mind in which you count words or pages the way some people fix their attention on the ‘calories burned’ readout…” (p. 17).

He proposes that we read “at whim,” that is, we read books when we are ready for them. That doesn’t mean we don’t read the great books. It means we don’t read them too soon. He also suggests that when we find works we like and wonder what else to read, that rather than reading books inspired by those books, we read upstream–that is, we read the books that preceded and inspired them. If we liked Tolkien, we should read Beowulf, a recommendation I agree with, especially if it is Seamus Heaney’s rendering! Now a more challenging one is his suggestion that, if we like Jane Austen, we read Hume, as many of her ideas come from him–but only under the sign of Whim.

Jacobs argues that one of the pleasures of reading is responding to the author and he describes the ways readers annotate their works and the value of this (he uses a mechanical pencil for precise underlines and sharpness of notes). Against those who worry that this will slow them down, he challenges the cult of page and book counts, contending that it is what, and not how much we read, that matters. He argues that many books become more boring the faster we read them, and that we ought to allow ourselves time to re-read, because we often miss much in our first readings.

Against those who complain of diminishing attention in an internet age, Jacobs contends that the thing that helped him most was getting a Kindle–it kept him reading, it promoted linearity, and allowed him to concentrate for a long time. Unlike reading on a computer or tablet, there are no notifications and no distractions or temptation to multi-task.

This takes Jacobs into a discussion of attentiveness and he introduces us to Hugh of St. Victor and the counsel of the Didascalion. He advises reading what we can, moving step by step, first cogitating and then meditating on the text, ruminating on it as a ruminant does its food. He contends that we need both the skills of skimming and deep and long attention, depending on the material and our reasons for engaging it.

Against those who want to turn libraries into chat-filled cafes, he argues that silence is often difficult to find, especially for the impoverished, who cannot afford the space. Libraries, or at least reading rooms, can be a place to preserve that. Against the contention that reading is solitary, he observes all the interactive possibilities from our engagement with the author to classrooms to book groups.

He concludes where he began, with the idea of serendip. Very little of our reading journey may be planned, though it may be cultivated, whether through Amazon recommendations, or the discoveries on the shelves of a bookstore or library. While pleasurable reading involves attention and the elimination of distraction, it should not be shaped by the shame or guilt of what one should read.

Like the author, I’ve been tempted at points by reading plans, and still wrestle, as a reviewer, with reading too fast, sometimes robbing myself of the enjoyment of a book. I no longer worry about reading plans, and usually have one book going that I just read for enjoyment. This was one such book, and I would recommend it for any who remember loving books, but for one reason or another struggle to read or get caught up in the tyranny of “should.”
Profile Image for Matt Pitts.
552 reviews41 followers
May 9, 2013
It's a dangerous thing to write a book about the pleasures of reading, because that book itself must also be a pleasure to read. Jacobs has succeeded admirably in writing such a book; it gives pleasure while reminding readers of the pleasure of reading (other books).

Those who loved to read, or remember when they loved to read, but have since wandered off the reading path with will both enjoy and be encouraged by this book. Jacobs' love for books and anecdote's about others' love for books can't help but spill over into the life of the sympathetic reader.

The book is written in a somewhat unusual but quite effective style. There are no chapters, just sections with brief headings. It reads more like a long essay (though without the negative connotation that word carries for most of us) or extended lecture than a book. There are footnotes scattered throughout, but they are not simply the obligatory references they make you put in your papers in school; instead they add more pleasureable reading to an already pleasureable book.

Given the fact that Jacobs is a professor at Wheaton I was a little disconcerted by his apparent acceptance of evolutionary theory, but it does not have any great effect on the book.

This is not a book you 'need to read' but one that you will likely be glad you did. And if you pick it up on a whim, Jacobs would be pleased...in more ways than one.
Profile Image for Masoome.
389 reviews36 followers
January 1, 2019
نمی دونم مخاطب این کتاب قرار بوده کی باشه... به درد من که نخورد، اما مطالبش جالبن (مفید نیستن، صرفا جالب.)
Profile Image for Mohammad reza khorasanizadeh.
676 reviews51 followers
April 3, 2021
از کتاب‌های در مورد کتاب و کتابخوانی که کمی فلسفی و بنیادین به این موضوعات پرداخته است و در ابتدا در مورد خود خواندن و چه خواندن و چجور خواندن صحبت می‌کند بخصوص نظریه بر اساس هوس خواندن نه بر اساس انواع لیست‌ها و پیشنهادات معروف و مشهور!
Profile Image for Annie Monson.
149 reviews11 followers
November 24, 2020
Friendly, unpretentious, and intelligent reflections aimed at enhancing our delight and satisfaction in reading. Not a prescription for how to become an impressive or “better” reader.

Recommended to those who crave that particular comfort and counsel that only books can give.
Profile Image for Jay Hinman.
122 reviews20 followers
August 14, 2012
This is an exceptionally edifying little tome about how one might seek to cultivate and nurture a love of book-length reading in our digital age, whether one already has nurtured that love of reading or not. It's author Alan Jacobs' argument - as well as that of many others - that contemplative, lost-in-a book-style reading is at risk of being lost in an age of multitasking, beeping smartphones and the ever-present siren song of the internet, which both promises and delivers so much of what we want, (Thanks for reading my blog on your computer or your phone, by the way). I bought this real-live hardcover book in a real-live bookstore - something that's soon to be an anachronism. Bookstores, as we all note with some sadness, will soon be a place for collectors only, a place in which the only books are used books. The rest of us - and I gladly and somewhat paradoxically include myself - will be reading for pleasure on our Kindles, and whatever subsequent devices displace that one.

We all know the popular laments about bookstores and print - but what about reading? That sort of meal-skipping reading you did when you were a teenager, devouring Steven King or whatever, three hundred pages in all night? I was that sort of teen, anyway, and yeah, I read King's "The Stand" three times and still have fond memories of it. There are many who will tell you, with some evidence, that this sort of reading is in danger. Alan Jacobs' "THE PLEASURES OF READING IN AN AGE OF DISTRACTION" certainly highlights the danger, but this is no anti-internet, anti-Kindle screed. (Jacobs, in fact, strongly purports that the Kindle may in fact save contemplative, uninterrupted reading). It's a series of light admonishments for how to capture or recapture the sense of reading for pleasure, and the understanding & contemplation that goes with it.

Key among his recommendations is to first and foremost read what you want to. No "1,001 great books to read before you die" and the attendant pressure that comes from trying to read what others think you should. There's no master curriculum that can be tailored to every reader. Furthermore, Jacobs recognizes that at best only 30% of us are going to be true, avid book-readers anyway - in this age, in past ages and in the future. This is when we need to recognize the sad but inviolable law that 50% of the world's population is of below-average intelligence. (Shocking!). Gnashing our teeth over why more people aren't reading does nothing to make it better, as there are finite limits to who is actually going to pick up a 400-page book and read it start-to-finish, for pleasure or for edification. Jacobs thinks we should focus on our own wavering impulses toward reading, and make "whim" our guiding principle in choosing what to read: "Ulysses", a graphic novel, a crime noir potboiler or a Jane Austen period piece. Or whatever.

He's certainly convincing on these counts, as he is with the sort of self-coaching that's necessary to ignore the phone, the TV and the myriad ways to access the internet in favor of books, which obviously bring a mode of learning that affects the brain in deep-seated ways. I personally am trying to use my smartphone - Twitter, blog readers, sports scores and everything else - only in times that call for it, like when I'm between things or in transit. I'm trying to carry a book - or at least my Kindle- with me at all times, and as mentioned before on this blog, I've got an audiobook going in the car every time I drive. Somehow, I feel the better for it. This small book only helped to reinforce this self-discipline and I'd recommend it to any one of you thirty-percenters who might be interested in honing your own reading moxie.
Profile Image for Aberdeen.
234 reviews27 followers
May 9, 2019
Alan Jacobs did not like and does not endorse How to Read a Book, which made me like him immediately. He also does not endorse lists like "100 books to read before you die," and he doesn't endorse sites like goodreads, because he doesn't think reading should be about how many books we've read or how fast we read them. That's probably a relief to many of us, including me.

Instead, one of his main points is that reading should be about Whim. (Yes, capital W.) In other words, read what you want to read. Not what everyone thinks you should read, whether it's the newest bestseller or a timeless classic. Not what you think you should read, in order to fit your idea of you are. Read what interests you. Read, as he quotes often by Randall Jarrell, at Whim!

The tone Jacob uses is witty and nerdy. It would annoy me in another book, maybe, but it's perfect for the content of this one. Besides, this book is very slim so I don't mind his occasional rabbit trails. He strikes a delightful balance between speaking from a part of "the club," the small but passionate reading community, and from a sincere belief that anyone can be a reader and that there shouldn't be snobbish rules about what makes someone a reader.

There isn't one tidy conclusion or point of this book—one reason why I hesitate to give it five stars. It felt a tad bit disorganized and left me thinking, "what exactly was the point?" Looking back several weeks after finishing it, maybe that is the point: There is no formula or list of rules or succinct summary of the reading life, of why and how we should read. It's different for everyone. This book is more of an exploration of what it means to read and what attitude we should approach reading with (instead of, thankfully, what tools we should approach reading with).

If I had to sum up the book, this line does it pretty well: "Our goal as adults is not to love all books alike, but rather to love as widely and as well as our limited selves will allow."

There is, of course, a tension between simply reading at Whim and trying to profit from what you read—recognizing that some books you should meditate on and dissect. Yes, read what you want—but sometimes you need to push through a harder book to gain a deeper reward. Even then, though, you are still really reading at Whim because you are choosing that you want that reward enough, you are interested enough in the gains a hard the book will give you, to undertake it. You're not doing it just to satisfy teacher or make yourself look smart.

Also! This quote on rereading gives me life: "and yet re-reading a book can often be a more significant, dramatic, and, yes, new experience than encountering an unfamiliar work."

If you love reading—if you're not sure you really count as a reader—if you use to read a lot but don't now—if you also hate How to Read a Book—this one's for you.
Profile Image for Becca.
437 reviews19 followers
February 11, 2019
We're you once a thriving reader, but have recently"lost touch":Books no longer hold your attention for more than a few minutes, and you allow technology to constantly distract you from the book in hand? Read this book (Don't worry, it's short, and can be consumed in small bites.)

If you've ever been one of those "check-list people," who rarely reads for pleasure, but always to strike items of a literary bucket list --- for the benefit of all readers everywhere, you must read this book.

If you are a confident, open-minded bibliophile, read this book. It will be a great encouragement. You know how everyone today is proclaiming loudly that no one reads any more? that books are going extinct? that libraries will disappear of the face of the planet in another hundred years? If such talk has ever depressed you, read this book.

EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE WHO HAS EVER LOVED A BOOK, READ THIS BOOK!

Personal thoughts: I wish I had my own copy so I could scribble notes in the margin --- taking notes while I read is something this book has inspired me to do! I was also inspired to enjoy what I read, or rather, read what I enjoy. Probably more importantly, it was a timely reminder for me to avoid literary snobbery: Who am I to judge others' reading selections or say they have "No taste"?

This is a wonderful addition to any library!
Profile Image for John.
106 reviews161 followers
June 17, 2011
If you've read Adler's How to Read a Book, then Jacobs will give some balance to your perspective. Where Adler is more systematic, Jacob is "whimsical"—I suppose the intended pun doesn't land superbly without prior knowledge of the book.

But Jacob wants to put the pleasure back in reading and reading what you want to read, because reading is first and foremost about pleasure and secondarily about gaining information.

This isn't a perfect book, but it's light and fun in spots. The theologian in me wanted to yell back at Jacobs, "But what if I enjoy reading to gain knowledge?!" It seemed to me that Jacob's perspective is one that is obviously from an literature professor. Time and time again, Jacobs urges his readers to put your pencils down when you are reading for pleasure. But what if I take pleasure in underlining, note taking, and gaining knowledge from it?

Jacobs and I come from different perspectives, though I think he's right to some extent on Adler and he seduces you into thinking you should take the rest of the day off and go read Jane Austin. And then reality hits and I have to actually earn a living and learn things to be a functioning human being.

I shouldn't be too critical. I really did enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Milan.
264 reviews2 followers
April 16, 2020
In 'The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction' Alan Jacobs never really delves into 'An Age of Distraction' part of the book. He is basically saying – Read at Whim. He dismisses all the so called expert book recommendations and tells us to read what you like. “For heaven’s sake, don’t turn reading into the intellectual equivalent of eating organic greens." Read for the sake of reading, not for the sake of being read.
Profile Image for Renee.
308 reviews48 followers
January 27, 2021
I will come back for a review. There were pros and cons for this book but I need to think a bit longer before putting my thoughts down
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