Kiri's Reviews > The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time

The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin
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bookshelves: mpl

The thesis is valuable and important, but this book is just too long (which is saying a lot for a 150-page book). I recommend instead reading this shorter article by the same author, which treads the same ground: . I found myself fidgeting my way through this book, struggling to keep my attention engaged, which is ironic (or maybe intentional), when the core message is one about our declining ability to focus and engage with book-length works. Yet in this case I'm afraid it may be a failing of the writing itself; the book states its message, and re-states it, over and over. Reading this book felt like listening to an incredibly long run-on sentence. More structure would have helped. I had trouble following the rambling argument that the trouble is not just a lack of reader attention but a lack of "narrative" (?).

The bits I found most engaging were the personal anecdotes the author shared about trying to help his teenage son get through The Great Gatsby or the time when his son almost died when they were scuba-diving, the latter of which arguably has nothing to do with the Art of Reading.

And yet there were some valuable takeaways. After sifting through the book, here's what I retained:

"Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being." (I love this image. I hadn't really thought about reading as a connection with the mind of the human progenitor of the work, but yes.)

"The world is always too close at hand." (Here "world" means everything out there that is so easy, maybe too easy, to reach with a click or a swipe. This captured a feeling I've had myself.)

"Memory is the story left behind by forgetting." - Rich Cohen, quoted in this book

"Every library worth the name contains dozens, if not hundreds, of books that fit those criteria, that speak to where we wish to go as much as where we've been."

and the whole book can be summed up here:

"Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction, a matter of engagement in a society that seems to want nothing more than for us to disengage. We regain the world by withdrawing from it just a little by stepping back from the noise."

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Reading Progress

January 18, 2019 – Shelved
January 18, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
January 18, 2019 – Shelved as: mpl
February 11, 2019 – Started Reading
February 14, 2019 – Finished Reading

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