A literary gem which so eloquently argues that deep reading has unique personal and societal value.
Recently, I gave up my long-held belief in coincidences. Like so many others, my conclusion is simply there is no such thing. Serendipitous moments, those minute points of synchronicity that happen to all of us throughout life are no accident.
So it was no coincidence that I walked into the venerable City Lights bookstore in San Francisco with my husband, as we quietly celebrated our nineteen years of marriage by strolling the city streets without a plan–no schedule, no kids in tow–and the first book I find myself facing as I step through the doors is David Ulin’s The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. I had never been in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s maverick shop prior, and here I was gazing at a gorgeous little book about a topic that has become so personal to me that I’ve actually made the effort to start this blog project–a solitary exercise of reading literature and then writing about my experience.
No coincidence, this little book was meant to come home with me. I had to have it–it had as much physical appeal as emotional with its uniquely sized trim, sleek hardcover, well-glued signatures capped off with coordinating headband, and luminous paper, sensual to the touch. And it was meant to be read right away, which I did. I can only picture other book readers, people like me, absorbing the commentaries throughout, nodding in agreement with every turn of the page. We cannot allow book reading to become a lost art. It will be catastrophic. There is a certainty one feels as Mr. Ulin articulates himself. He says what I feel, what I know in my heart. I almost let book reading get away from me, but I’m holding on to it now with an iron grip. How fascinating to run into this wonderful work while I am continuing to read Nicholas Carr’s scientific piece about the same theme, The Shallows. In fact, Mr. Ulin cites Carr’s book often as he builds his argument and brings his reader to the thoughtful yet disturbing conclusions. Our future as a society, our culture, are inextricably linked with literature and with the simple, personal, beautiful act of solitary reading.