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Reading more books is good for America – Daily Freeman

Reading more books is good for America – Daily Freeman


When I heard about the silent book club trend, it immediately filled me with calm and hope.

In 2012, two friends in San Francisco came up with the idea of ​​an informal social event in which book lovers could gather at a coffee shop or pub and then read together in silence for about an hour, after which they can discuss their thoughts about what they read and socialize.

There is something very special about being immersed in a great work of fiction or non-fiction that brings a tranquility and enrichment that few other activities can provide.

A deep dive into the history of life, economics, history, the cosmos or so many other curiosities of our incredibly rich world not only makes us calmer, but also improves our ability to think, to concentrate and to become wiser and more open to the thoughts of others. .

God knows we need more freedom of thought in these highly turbulent and partisan times.

Reading books has been in decline for a long time because it has to compete with other forms of entertainment.

I remember seeing author Kurt Vonnegut, whose colorful writing is always enjoyable, talk about the challenge of reading books with other now-deceased authors in a YouTube talk show clip that must be 40 years old.

He said that until the advent of radio, books were the only form of entertainment for most people, especially during winters when there was nothing else to do in the evenings but read.

Radio and television offered alternatives to reading. And now social media, streaming TV, podcasts and more have really put a damper on our book reading.

According to a 2022 Gallup survey, the average American reads about 12 books a year, two or three books fewer than 20 years ago.

However, according to Gallup, the steepest decline was among people who were the most avid readers, college graduates, but also women and older Americans.

According to Gallup, college graduates are reading on average about six fewer books in 2021 than between 2002 and 2016, 14.6 compared to 21.1.

To me, this is concerning because reading books improves your ability to concentrate and concentrate on skills that especially need to be maintained in an age where attention spans are also in sharp decline, when millions of people move from one short TikTok or Instagram video to another.

Why is this concerning?

Because concentration and intelligence go hand in hand.

The ability to evaluate ideas and distinguish between stupid, false ideas and effective, true ideas is important in any democracy.

If we lose the ability to see clearly, we risk electing officials who put personal gain ahead of the good of the republic.

Focus and clarity of thought are also important for engaging in thoughtful conversation with others who have different ideas than we do, and books can nourish our ability to return to more thoughtful discussions.

Getting together to read, talk, and socialize is as good an idea as I've heard in a long time. I hunger for such camaraderie.

Additionally, I have a stack of classic books that I've been wanting to get to, including Mark Twain, OHenry, James Michener, and Mary Shelley.

Did you know that Shelley wrote her famous Frankenstein work when she was just 18 years old?

Now there's an anecdote to share at a silent book club meeting.

Tom Purcell's column is distributed by the Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Email him at [email protected].




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