Archive for February 10th, 2009
Stephen Colbert mixes it up with Jonah Lehrer, author of “How We Decide.” The disjointed conversation does have its serious moments, with the focus being the emotional self versus the rational self. Sometimes I wonder whether Colbert is tempted to drop his character for ten minutes and just have a good conversation with a thoughtful guest. This might have been one of those times.
According to this report, reading is on the rise in America for the first time in a quarter century. It’s difficult for me to express how pleased this makes me.
Civilization and its discontents have been in the back of my mind since I became aware of how little reading most people do. To go into a house—a nice house,well-furnished, a place of some affluence—and see no books at all has always given me a chill, especially if there are children in the house. Over the last 30 years, since I’ve been paying attention to the issue, I’ve found a bewildering array of excuses among people across all walks of life as to why they never read. I can understand fatigue, certainly—it is easier to just flip on the tube and veg out to canned dramas—but in many of these instances, reading has simply never been important. To someone for whom reading has been the great salvation, this is simply baffling.
Reading, I believe, is the best way we have to gain access to the world short of physically immersing ourselves in different places and cultures. Even for those who have the opportunity and resource to travel that extensively, reading provides a necessary background for the many places that will be otherwise inaccessibly alien to our sensibilities.