The Death of Reading

reading-clip-art-11971497511117136851nlyl_reading_man_with_glasses-svg-medLong spells between posts here, I know. I’ve been out of the country twice and gone through the birth of Child #7 since the beginning of May, along with managing several summer courses, so things have been hectic.

But I had to write about the death of reading today. Not the death of my reading, you understand, but Philip Yancey’s, as told in the Washington Post yesterday.

This essay hit home to me because I’ve experienced some of what Yancey describes, particularly the increasing difficulty of maintaining the concentration necessary to read anything longer than a few paragraphs. When I began the Great Books Project in 2011, I didn’t have trouble doing at least an hour of reading for it on most days. Since then, my life has gotten quite a bit more complicated, with increased job responsibilities and three additional children, and that complication has definitely made it more difficult to find the time to read. However, I’ve also noticed that even if I do manage to carve out the time, I find myself more prone to distraction than I used to be, and I think there is something to what Yancey is saying about how the Internet and social media have trained us to live more distractedly. That or I just fall asleep more easily than I used to do.

I’m working on implementing some of Cal Newport’s suggestion about “deep work” in order to counteract this problem. If you haven’t read his book on the topic, I strongly recommend you do so if you’re experiencing any of the same difficulties.

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About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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2 Responses to The Death of Reading

  1. Amy Hunt says:

    I’ve increasingly found that I suffer from the same malady, too! Thanks for writing on this subject. I just ordered the “Deep Work” book. I hope it helps!

  2. Marie says:

    This is an extremely important problem. Thanks for writing about it! I have been an avid reader my entire life–until the past few years. It’s very troubling.

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