“Michael Dirda wrote about book best-seller lists for BookForum, calling them “bad for readers, bad for publishing, and bad for culture. Above all, despite appearances, the best-seller list isn’t populist; it’s elitist. If there are a dozen slots, six are filled by the same old establishment names. For every James Patterson novel on the list, that’s one fewer novel by someone else.” He continued:
The best-seller list functions, in essence, as a restraint of trade, a visible hand that crushes the life out of the literary marketplace. If one were to magically eliminate every form of the list, in print and online, as well as all those best-seller tables in Barnes & Noble, what would happen? People would spend more time browsing a bookstore’s stock, they would skim a page or two of various interesting-looking titles, and eventually they would plunk down their twenty dollars. In short, they would actively engage with a greater portion of our literary culture. Customers might even discuss their tastes with the shop’s owner or staff, who would actually recommend a few appropriate titles. Friends, neighbors, and colleagues might also suggest beloved novels, biographies, and poetry collections.
Without a best-seller list, authors would compete on something like a level playing field, while readers would buy the books that spoke most meaningfully to their particular interests and tastes rather than settling for the one-size-fits-all titles found in the back pages of the New York Times Book Review.”
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In “some American universities, novels such as The Great Gatsby and Mrs Dalloway are being tagged with “trigger warnings” alerting students to potentially disturbing material.”
“Why would anyone take an English literature course if they were so fragile they could not cope with the emotions great literature deals with? That is not the main issue, however. The problem with such tagging is that it grossly insults the book itself and literature in general. All other arguments against such overprotective coddling are as nothing to the sheer ignorance such a process displays for the art of writing.”
“Almost all first-class fiction revolves around painful issues of some sort. Trying to protect readers from the corrosive aspects of life is akin to sending a child out into the world without their vaccinations.”
…”writers are mirrors of their times, and a saintly novelist does not and never will exist. We read not to encounter perfect, politically correct or sanitised characters, but to enter the author’s imagined worlds, warts and all. Strip out all conflict or fear, prejudice or unpleasantness, violence, death or heartbreak, and you’d have nothing but Janet and John storybooks.”
“It should be noted that while one’s willingness to read is important, forging a reading-friendly environment is also crucial. From this viewpoint, efforts should be strengthened to build more libraries across the country ― hopefully to put every resident within walking distance of the facilities ― and to organize various events and programs aimed at establishing a strong reading culture. It may also serve this purpose to offer tax deductions on book purchases or provide book vouchers for low-income families, who put aside much less to spend on books.”
The “President [...] has advocated cultural prosperity as one of her key policy goals. Encouraging people to read more books will be the foundation for achieving it and building a society in which all people feel happy and find meaning in their lives.”
“Reading fiction, the researchers found, provides a chance to think things through “without concern for urgency” and lets readers think in ways not their own.
Reading, especially the reading of great literature, said Michael Sexson, MSU emeritus Regents Professor in English, is a kind of cure for the attention deficit disorder that seems to afflict everyone in our society, including himself.
“I’m not a Luddite by any means,” said the veteran professor and devoted tablet user. “I’m fascinated by technologies, in particular, communicative technologies.
“At the same time, I don’t think it’s amiss to be severely critical of the ways in which electronic technologies have provided us with so many more options than we’ve ever had before, to the point that these options become the choices of distractions.”
The kind of deep involvement, concentration and the ability to be informed on a productive level are, in his view, largely the result of reading books.”
“A new study by the UK’s Department for Culture Media and Sport shows that people can be just as happy going to the library as getting a £1,359 ($2,282) pay rise. The study, which examined the way in which our cultural engagement can affect overall wellbeing, found that frequent trips to the library gave us a similar feeling of wellbeing to things like the prospect of a pay rise, dancing, swimming and going to theater shows.
It’s unclear whether happy people go to the library or whether the library actually makes people happy. Either way though, it seems the library is where the happy people are at. Given that the UK, like the U.S., has seen many of its libraries closed over the past few years, perhaps this research should prompt a rethink about the worth of our libraries.”
More ways books make our lives better:
“According to psychologists, there are two types of mindsets in the world; one, fixed and the other, growth. Those with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities are all pre-determined and they tend to live proving their stagnant beliefs instead of disapproving or building the possibility for a positive change in their talents, behaviours or attitudes. A growth mindset is one that accepts failures as well as challenges without losing hope. It believes that intelligence is not decided at birth but cultivated over time.”
Reading books opens minds.
More on the mamy benefits of reading, including weight loss, creativity, mind flexibility: http://www.onlymyhealth.com/reading-reduces-waistline-no-kidding-1397729297
A Harvard Professor teaches MBA students how to become moral leaders, and finds lessons in literature:
“the understanding of what makes a good leader starts with searching for truth in works of fiction.”
“It takes something really big to shape somebody … The reason literature can have that influence–these books kind of get under peoples’ skin.”
“Because you read these books, and you might see one of these characters and think, ‘That’s me.”
“I think what you get from serious literature is a warts-and-all view of people and people in leadership positions … In other words, the authors can be basically unsparing. The good stuff and bad stuff and the confused stuff going over (the characters’) heads, it’s all there. You can see it and learn from how these characters made decisions.”
“This course is intensely practical, if the term practical is understood to include preparation for living a morally responsible life … One of the goals of this course is to move you beyond your immediate reactions in challenging situations toward a more considered and analytical approach to moral and ethical decision-making.”
“Reading books is a resourceful method to gaining indispensable knowledge that is crucial to promoting oneself in the world. Reading constantly supplies the brain with new information, such as vocabulary expansion and improved writing skills. The ability to be lucid and articulate is an advantage in any profession, and those skills will effectually enhance your writing abilities.”
“Reading has a positive connotation associated with it and is also inherently seen at a higher, more intelligent level than watching television, playing video games and engaging in other forms of technology.”
“The Harvard Business Review found that those who read often demonstrated high verbal intelligence, innovation and were more likely to be leaders. Furthermore, studies show reading makes people more effective communicators and fosters more empathy.”
“Reading can also make you more effective in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence), making a leader a more articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others.”
“Sure, I’d dabbled in some Kafka and Garcia Marquez, but those were acclaimed writers who’d, deservedly, long been translated to English and had earned their proper due. Bolaño was my introduction, or perhaps initiation, to the canon of international literature. Naturally, I came to wonder: What else have I not been exposed to?”
“Do other Americans ask themselves similar questions when stumbling upon the work of gifted international writers? Or are the majority of us content with being fascinated by our own nation’s mythology? These questions are worthy of our pondering. In my case, it was an issue of broadening a somewhat narrow worldview. And literature from countries outside of my own, from Chile and France and Japan and Russia, began the work of providing a more holistic education—one concerned with making sense of the entire world, not just a small portion.”
“It’s simple, really. If we’re only paying mind to the storytellers of our own country, we’re robbing ourselves blind of something rich and meaningful.”
“With not one person to find refuge, I took shelter in books. Reading takes you away from harsh reality and transports you to a better universe — a universe that makes you forget about your own problems and care only for the characters the author created.
Reading makes you realize that you aren’t the only person with a lot on their plate. Reading makes you feel like you’re not alone. Like you’re not alien.
Reading lets you know that the world isn’t so harsh. People who live in this sometimes-cruel-yet-beautiful world crafted those stories and made their own worlds into heavens.
Reading is a gift. A present. A token of love from the heavens above
Reading is a teacher, better than any teacher across this giant, unknown world.
Reading teaches you lessons about love, life, friendship, death, fear, society, anything. Reading and the universes inside those books teach you the morals you swear to live by.”
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