Title: The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time
Author: David L. Ulin
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
Source: Personal Copy
The minute I read of this book, I knew I had to buy it. There was nothing else to do but to read it. The title encompasses a lot as it, however one had to know what was there in between its pages. I mean, as I have said several times before, I love reading books about books, about other people’s reading experience and what do they make of books in today’s world. At some point, even I used to think that the “art of reading” would wither away, but I am glad that that’s not the case. In fact, if anything is to go by, then most people are reading today than ever before, or at least some of them do a very good job of pretending to read.
Books matter today more than they ever did or at least that is what I believe in with most conviction. So when I read books such as these, they just fill my heart with a lot of joy. “The Lost Art of Reading” is a fascinating inquiry into why literature is important and its role in today’s time and age, when we are surrounded by Facebook and Twitter and more so the Internet in general. Do people have the time to read? Has reading lost its importance? Is it dying? These and many more questions are asked and answered by Ulin to the best of his capacity, which makes for one of the most entertaining books on the subject which I have read in a very long time.
The book almost covers every periphery of the reader’s thoughts, aspirations, and what to read next as well. He addresses the craft of writing and how most writers adapt and change. I loved how he spoke of the art of reading a book, the reader’s involvement so to say and how that completely changes the writer’s world and efforts. Ulin takes it a step further and speaks of rereading the book and what goes in it, how perceptions change and how also sometimes writers become favourites and some are left behind.
Ulin speaks of the people who influenced his writing and how his works contain some of their elements (Anne Fadiman, Joan Didion to speak of). What I also found interesting towards the end is the way he also manages to make a case for digitization and how it only leads to helping the cause of reading. Maybe his view of “medium of reading doesn’t matter” is correct to a very great extent and at the same time I cannot imagine myself without a physical book. Pieces such as these just take your mind on a different journey of books and reading. And this is precisely why I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks reading is a dying art. Read this book and you will change your mind on that one.