Customer Review

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasures, but not much advice, July 4, 2011
This review is from: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (Hardcover)
Three thoughts about this book:

* Since my May 1 surgery, I had--until this week--been able to read exactly one book front-to-back: Tina Fey's "Bossypants." It was clever and entertaining, but it took all of an afternoon to read. Everything else I've tried to read the last two months has either been a bit of a slog, or else I've simply been unable to maintain focus. But reading is important to me; it frightened me to think I might be losing my capacity somehow. So when I saw this slim volume at the Joseph Fox Bookshop in Philadelphia, I snapped it up immediately. Maybe, just maybe, I could find my way back.

* A wise choice, because one of Jacobs' chief messages in this book is: "Relax." He eschews reading lists and eat-your-veggies approaches to reading in favor of urging readers to follow their Whim. In Jacobs' hands, this is not a call to dispense with Great Books and devote oneself entirely to Stephen King. He makes it quite clear that one's Whim--he's the one doing the capitalizing--can lead one both to high art and splendid trash, and that one can derive different sorts of pleasures from both. (He's also quite keen on the virtues of rereading certain books.)

* But how does one continue to be a book reader when Twitter, Facebook, and life itself are lurking all around? Jacobs doesn't really offer an answer to this question: Instead, he suggests that it is possible, with some persistent effort, to create a "cone of silence" around oneself--if one chooses to do so. And perhaps he's right: I managed to read this 150-page book in three days. On a long holiday weekend, to be sure, but it was possible. Jacobs' book about the pleasures of reading turns out to be a pleasurable read in its own right.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 10, 2011 1:12:27 PM PST
Cedric's Mom says:
how does one continue to be a book reader when Twitter, Facebook, and life itself are lurking all around? That is THE question, isn't it? I'm no English teacher but what works for me is starting out small. I'm very methodical. I will sit down with my book and make sure the computer is OFF. Start for 20 minutes and just read. Random thoughts come and go, but keep reading. Over time, you increase your time, but it takes time to work up to it. I think I can read for 90 minutes now, but it took awhile to work up to that. You have got to turn off the computer and put your phone out of reach. It's gonna be tough, but you can do it!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2012 11:05:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 23, 2012 11:26:21 AM PDT
Dr. Roberta says:
Your comment on learning to rekindle the capacity to focus while reading, reminded me of how I learned to study during my freshman year at UCLA. I had tremendous personal anxiety during the first week of classes; I fully believed that my classes were filled with people who were so much smarter than me. Thus, I also believed that I was destine to fall off the edge of the infamous "curve" that govered all student final grades. Before my weekly history quiz, I isolated myself in the library stackes; and I reread, several times, each paragraph in the assigned chapter. Next, I lectured on the central topics in the test chapter to my study partener. And, she lectured them to me. Over the years, re-reading and talking aloud about what I have read, has become my habitual way of learning. I have describe my way of studying to students in my seminars and have encouraged them to develop personal study styles that feel reliable. Dr. Roberta, NYC

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2014 5:34:59 AM PST
what worked for me, when I discovered - with horror - that I was not reading as much anymore even though I'd been an avid reader since I first learned to read, was to go cold-turkey and simply sign off of Facebook. That was about three years ago, I think? I was able to do that when I finally realized that FB is NOT "social" media as much as a mindless cocktail party in print.
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