Reader, Come home (2018) is a meditation on the future of reading in the age of digital revolution and diminishing attention spans. Authored by Maryanne Wolf, the John DiBiaggio Professor of citizenship and Public service at Tufts University and co-founder of Curious Learning: A Global Literacy Project, the book draws insight from latest neuroscientific research and unpacks the cultural and cognitive dimensions of a technological transformation that has reshaped our relationship with the written word. At the heart of her investigation is a question whose answer will determine how our societies will look in the future: What will reading mean to our children, a generation which has never known a world without Google, smartphone and e-books?
1) The days when the distinction between our digital lives and what used to be called IRL or “in real life” are long gone. Today, they’re two sides of the same coin. We upload our supposedly offline activities and talk about what we’ve seen and read online with our friends, colleagues and families. That, critics claim, is wreaking havoc across society. We’re sleeping less, being increasingly anxious, arguing more and – ultimately – losing touch with reality.
So are we looking down the barrel of total civilization collapse?
2)The human brain is a miraculous machine capable of all sorts of astounding feats. Some of that is innate: we’re born with genes that allow our bodies and minds to acquire certain natural abilities without needing to be taught them. Most people, for example, enter the world with an astounding ability to pick up language.
3) Reading is an entirely different matter. Unlike speaking, it isn’t hardwired into the brain. It is a cultural invention rather than an innate trait.
4) We’ve seen what our changing relationship with information and knowledge is doing to our ability to learn and read. Does that mean we should shun technology and revert to analog lifestyles?
Not really. A better bet is encouraging kids to become fully fleunt in both print and digital mediums just as bilingual children achieve fluency in two languages. After all, each medium has its own strengths. By learning to work with the unique strengths of both physical books and digital devices, children can develop a bilateral brain capable of making savvy and informed choices about what they consume both online and offline.
6) This last excerpt is the longest and my most favourite! Enjoy!
Title: Protecting our third life as readers preserves our ability to turn knowledge into wisdom.
In the Nicomachean ethics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle identified the three “lives” of a good society: one devoted to knowledge and productivity, another to entertainment and the third to contemplation. That is a pretty good model for the lives of readers.
Like members of Aristotle’s ideal society, readers must balance their three lives if they wish to be their best selves. Here’s how it works. The first life is all about learning and gathering knowledge – think of looking something up on Google or in a dictionary. In the second mode, readers relish the things which entertain them like testing their wits as they follow with the deductions of a sleuth in a murder mystery or discovering fascinating historical facts. This is ultimately where we find an escape from the pressures of everyday life. Taken together, these two lives lead to the third: the life of contemplation. This is a deeply personal realm where we let the things we read- whatever genre they are – guide our thoughts about the world around us. Spending time in this third zone allows us to translate the knowledge and experience gained in our first and second lives into wisdom.
That is not something that will take care of itself – rather, we have to commit ourselves to this pursuit of wisdom. The third life is a delicate flower that needs to be carefully cultivated, and that takes time, patience and effort – all things in desperately short supply in our fast paced, digital world! It was this realization which led billionaire investor Warren Buffet to tell Bill Gates that he should leave plenty of free space in his calendar. After Gates credited him with this discovery, Buffet pulled a small calendar out of his pocket. “Time,” he said, “is the one thing no one can buy.”
In this fast paced and ever changing world, reading is a dying hobby! Reading through the blinks of this book in the blinkist app made me realize how different my own interest in reading and the volume of my reading has slowly crumbled over the last few years!
In my journey of rediscovering life, I want to get back to my first love of reading and redisover my passion for reading in an altogether new manner. And this time around, I will let reading celebrate me!
I am leaving all you readers out there with this one quote to ponder over, for I know it is very true..
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury