- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 26, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199747490
- ISBN-13: 978-0199747498
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 5.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction 1st Edition
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"Delightful...appealing and convincing." --The Wall Street Journal
"As so many recent studies have suggested, the activity of reading itself is seriously threatened in this digital age. But Alan Jacobs -- bless him -- has an approach that will warm the hearts of serious readers and lead many prospective readers into the deeply satisfying swells of good prose. Reading should be a pleasure, and Jacobs shows us how to make sure we take delight in this work, which is not work at all. This is a witty and reader-friendly book, and it's one I would happily give to any potential reader, young or old." -- Jay Parini, author of The Passages of H.M. and The Last Station
"A vigorous and friendly exhortation to get back into the kind of reading that made you a reader in the first place." - Library Journal
"Jacobs' little, witty ode to pleasure found between hardcovers is a useful reminder of the joy of text." --Dan Kois, NPR
"Jacobs gives us the best entry to date in the flurry of recent attempts to augur and meditate upon the fate of reading in our time." --John Wilson, Christianity Today
"It seems a rare accomplishment that a book on the pleasures of reading could actually pull off being pleasurable itself. But Alan Jacobs' newest book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, does just that. It is a marvelous manifesto of sanity in an age of jeremiads about the modern predicament of attention loss on one hand, and those proud champions of distraction singing the hallelujah chorus of a world devoid of long-form books on the other." --Trevor Logan, First Things
"A passionate call to indulge one's readerly passions in the pursuit of centeredness and growth, this book just might change the way you think about reading." --Brendan Driscoll, Booklist
"Alan Jacobs' bright, broad paean to reading is a sort of secular prayer book. It instructs, exhorts, laments, reveres; it has great faith andbest of allshows the Way. Or a way at leastfor author Jacobs, a college English professor, warns well that the road to reading Nirvana is a highly personal one." --Joseph Mackin, New York Journal of Books
"wonderful" --Micah Mattix, The Weekly Standard
"Reading Jacobs is a supreme pleasure...Jacobs has reshaped not only how I think about reading but how and what I actually read." --Lauren Winner, Books & Culture
"Jacobs makes a persuasive case that reading for pleasure should remain a live option in any discipline...The book as a whole makes many compelling points and refreshingly celebrates the God-given gift of reading in an age where texts are ubiquitous but often neglected."--Themelios
"Using Auden's terms to describe judging books, I conclude that 'I can see this is good and I like it.' The Pleasures of Reading in a Time of Distraction represents a realistic approach to recovering deep reading for the sole purpose of pleasure."--Journal of Education and Christian Belief
About the Author
Alan Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Baylor University. His books include The Narnian, a biography of C.S. Lewis, Original Sin: A Cultural History, and a Theology of Reading. His literary and cultural criticism has appeared in the Boston Globe, The American Scholar, and the Oxford American.
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Top customer reviews
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Overall, I got a lot out of reading this book. The reason I gave the book four stars instead of a five is because Professor Jacobs repeated concepts over and over. Moreover, a table of contents or an index based on the subject headings would have been helpful.
If you want to learn how to “read at Whim” and enjoy reading just for the pleasure of it, read this book.
Jacobs does acknowledge a hierarchy in literature. He won't give you a reading list to work through. But he also doesn't like the idea that a reader might consign themselves to penny dreadfuls.
Because reading is not just entertainment. The activity of reading requires attention. You can't sit down and turn on a book while you space out. You have to engage the book by turning the pages, even if those pages are now electronic. Your imagination has to fire to life and display images and situations.
Attention or attentiveness is a muscle that grows as it is used. Jacobs tells us that we exercise this muscle not out of obligation but pleasure:
This is why attentiveness is worth cultivating; not just because it is good for you or because...it can help you "organize your world," but because such raptness is deeply satisfying."
Jacobs notes that
"Our educational models have traditionally valued what [N. Katherine Hayles] calls "deep attention," while todays students are proficient in mobile, flexible, fast-twitch "hyper attention." Deep attention she identifies as..."characterized by concentrating on a single object for long period...ignoring outside stimuli while so engaged, preferring a single information stream and having a high tolerance for long focus times."
Jacobs understands that the modern world needs, demands, and very effectively persuades, us to cultivate "hyper attention". He cites the story of a Rhode scholar who boasts in the dearth of his literary exploits. There is no hand-ringing or shed tears. No call to arms to defend the virgin bride of literary attentiveness against the lecherous hordes of the impending Armageddon of hyper attention that is surely already in our midst, Facebook, twitter, and iPhones, their insidious weapons of mass destruction.
Not every person is a reader. That is ok. Most of the world is going to survive if they never read a single "classic". Lots of people will gain immense satisfaction from reading popular novels. Some people will fall deeply in love with reading. They will get so caught up in the beauty of language and the tension of the plot and the tragedy of the character than they will forget about sleep, food, and friend. It might start with any book. But they will get more and more hungry for an author who is able to strike the central cord of the human experience. This is what the classics truly are. Not must-read list to show off your smarts. No, a much-loved list. A list in open revision as new readers join the community that spans generations. You might never love Dickens. But they never loved Cormac McCarthy. That is ok.
Knowledgeable author takes us for a delightful journey through reading process, from making a choice what to read and when, through where, and finally how to read. It is a fantastic journey made easy by thoughtful way of explaning difficult issues. That means that the book can be recommended for everyone interested in reading. It does not give you simple advice what to read, but if one explores footnotes carrefuly, even this can be found. I am convinced that I will re-read this book many times and I expect to find something new each time.