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The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
 
 

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction [Kindle Edition]

Alan Jacobs
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £12.99
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Product Description

Review

He writes with panache...it is excellent (The Tablet)

fascinating study (Writing Magazine)

Delightful yet discombobulating (The Wall Street Journal)

what could be nicer to read than a book about how nice reading is? (Steven Poole, The Guardian)

lively volume...prepare to be engrossed. (Times Higher Education Supplement)

A vigorous and friendly exhortation to get back into the kind of reading that made you a reader in the first place. (Library Journal)

Product Description

In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way.
In this book, Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted readers supporting hundreds of enormous bookstores and online booksellers. Oprah's Book Club is hugely influential, and a recent NEA survey reveals an actual uptick in the reading of literary fiction. Jacobs's interactions with his students and the readers of his own books, however, suggest that many readers lack confidence; they wonder whether they are reading well, with proper focus and attentiveness, with due discretion and discernment. Many have absorbed the puritanical message that reading is, first and foremost, good for you--the intellectual equivalent of eating your Brussels sprouts. For such people, indeed for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, and do so without shame, whether it be Stephen King or the King James Version of the Bible. In contrast to the more methodical approach of Mortimer Adler's classic How to Read a Book (1940), Jacobs offers an insightful, accessible, and playfully irreverent guide for aspiring readers. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of approaching literary fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and the book explores everything from the invention of silent reading, reading responsively, rereading, and reading on electronic devices.
Invitingly written, with equal measures of wit and erudition, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction will appeal to all readers, whether they be novices looking for direction or old hands seeking to recapture the pleasures of reading they first experienced as children.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 281 KB
  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199747490
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (12 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004XVFLLU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #227,885 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Read at whim!' 10 Aug 2011
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
In this slim essay Alan Jacobs offers advice for those who have forgotten how to get pleasure from reading, who would like to get lost in a book but find there are too many distractions to enable sustained concentration. I picked this book up on a whim and as I read I thought that perhaps I was not really its intended audience, being able to pleasurably immerse myself in a book without anxiety or distraction. However Jacobs did make me think about the way I read (probably too fast) and I finished feeling invigorated, looking forward to reading with a new care, being freshly attentive to both the words on the page and the experience of reading itself.

Jacobs offers his counsel with intelligence and liberality, being didactic but not dogmatic. I was most impressed by his use of quotations which as well as being pertinent were a joy to read and opened up new arenas of reading from Machiavelli to David Foster Wallace, via Auden, Zweig, and others. The book ends with 'An Essay on Sources' which, without being a reading list, offers much inspiration.

As well as the beautifully written passages he quotes, Jacobs's own writing is also something to savour; for example in the following passage on the right time to re-read a favourite book:

"Lately I have been asking myself whether I have sufficiently forgotten the details of Patrick O'Brien's novels..that I can return to them with vibrant pleasure. I hover over those memories like a cook over a stewpot: in another year, I think, the books and I will be ready."

Jacobs has thoughtful things to say about the merits of reading on a Kindle or similar device; however, as the 'codex' version of this book is a nicely presented hardback with pleasing typography, I would recommend buying a hard copy.

[Disclaimer: I am an employee of Oxford University Press, this review reflects my personal opinions.]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Title says it all 22 Oct 2011
By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The Pleasures of Reading in An Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs is a little gem. The title immediately resonated with me and what a delight it was to read it. Not long, it is a slender volume but every word is a joy. The author is a great believer in reading on a Whim. "...lists of approved texts can, for some, make reading a drudgery. My son is one such person, it was the Aroma of Responsibility, Obligation and Virtue emanating from such lists that sent him flying".

As a professor of English he is asked for recommended reading lists from his students and he never complies with these requests. the author says that 'in a context of friendship and mutual interest the making of recommendations is a pleasure, outside of that it quickly becomes an onerous duty and I don't like mixing reading with onerous duties'

I could go on quoting this book forever as there are so many things in it with which I am in complete agreement. All book lovers should lay their hands on Alan Jacobs book and peruse from beginning to end. If you don't end up saying out loud Oh Yes and Oh Bang on and Yes I agree then I will be most surprised.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure to Read in an Age of Distraction 27 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am someone who has recently rediscovered the joys of reading so was fascinated by this well-written little book. At times I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the author but the one thing that I would disagree with him about is the use of lists or books such as 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. When I started reading a lot I found a lot of books that I had never heard of by using these sources & have now built up a very small library so that I can 'read at whim' as Alan Jacobs so wisely suggests. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading but who sometimes doubts their method or motives - they will certainly find answers & food for thought here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 4 May 2012
Format:Hardcover
What a perfect little book. Both snappy and thoughtful, entertaining and challenging. I loved it.

(I would probably recommend getting a hard copy of this book. I love my kindle, and felt quite smug to be reading all Jacobs' praise of the kindle ON a kindle. However, there are no hyperlinks to the footnotes within the text of the kindle edition, which means I missed reading them in line with the rest of the book. They are entertaining so this was a loss!)
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&quote;
Read what gives you delight—at least most of the time—and do so without shame. &quote;
Highlighted by 69 Kindle users
&quote;
As the eighteenth-century scientist G. C. Lichtenberg once wrote, “A book is like a mirror: if an ass looks in, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.” &quote;
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&quote;
“When one thinks of the attention that a great poem demands, there is something frivolous about the notion of spending every day with one. Masterpieces should be kept for High Holidays of the Spirit”—for our own personal Christmases and Easters, not for any old Wednesday. &quote;
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