News & Media

The Lost Art of Reading

A book reviewer comments on the intrusion of the Internet

The problem is technology, the endless distractions of the Internet, the breakdown of authority in an age of blogs and Twitter, the collapse of narrative in a hyper-linked, multi-networked world.”

The Lost Art Of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time
by David Ulin

Sometime late last year — I don’t remember when, exactly — I noticed I was having trouble sitting down to read. That’s a problem if you do what I do, but it’s an even bigger problem if you’re the kind of person I am. So what happened? It isn’t a failure of desire so much as one of will. Or not will, exactly, but focus: the ability to still my mind long enough to inhabit someone else’s world, and to let that someone else inhabit mine.



Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another human being. Books enlarge us by giving direct access to experiences not our own. In order for this to work, however, we need a certain type of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. Today, it seems it is not contemplation we seek but an odd sort of distraction masquerading as being in the know. Why? Because of the illusion that illumination is based on speed, that it is more important to react than to think, that we live in a culture in which something is attached to every bit of time.”


David L. Ulin is the former book critic of the Los Angeles Times. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author or editor of nine books, including The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. Read the full articleThis excerpt from an article in the Los Angeles Times. August 2009 © 2009 – 2016


Topics: Brain, Reading, Science

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Author, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

It is by acts and not ideals that people live.

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Author (1844-1924)
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Too many people grow up. That's the trouble with the world.

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Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

KOFI ANNAN
Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)

Reading brings us unknown friends.

HONORÉ DE BALZAC
Novelist (1799-1850)

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

WILLIAM JAMES
Philosopher, Psychologist (1842-1910)

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Sir Tom Stoppard
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Ludwig Wittgenstein

Start some kind words on its travels. There is no telling where the good it may do will stop.

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