Cover Image: The Lost Art of Reading

The Lost Art of Reading

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Member Reviews

This book is an ode to delving deeper into books. Readers will agree with many of the points made the joys of reading for pleasure and the pains of reading an assigned text; the reading experience of a physical book vs an e book (although e-readers have vastly improved since the book's original publication date; and the kinship one can feel when perusing some else's library among others. There is so much to enjoy about this book that I recommend that you pick up a copy for yourself and let me know what you think.
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A great book that delves into the philosophy behind books and the differences it lends us as a printed physical entity in a digital age. It also goes into how it affects our brains differently and the distinct experiential differences that affect what we take away from the books we read. Definitely a book for book lovers. The vocabulary used is a bit advanced for a beginner reader, but i think this is the perfect book to read to re-spark a persons love of reading after a particularly long hiatus. This book is Jam packed with statistics about our society's current standing on reading, books, writing, and all things literary. The author breaks apart these intense factual sections with musings on his time reading, and particularly his introspective relationship with The Great Gatsby while re-reading it alongside his son.
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I actually received an ARC from Netgalley for an updated version of this book with new introduction. I would have liked to see an update on all of the material, but this is still really good and thoughtful. I plan on including it in one of my classes for sure. I think people need to spend some time thinking about reading. Of course, the people who are going to read this book, already want to read this book. I am not sure it reaches the wide audience it needs to reach. It sounds crazy, but I think Mr. Ulin should do a documentary. I think that would reach those people who used to read, but don't anymore. Documentaries are books for the digital generation. This book made me want to buy more books, not just read more.
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This book gets a little ranty, but it's very interesting!  I would recommend for readers of nonfiction.  I don't necessarily think it's the best bridge from fiction to nonfiction, but it's certainly interesting for educators.
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The Lost Art of Reading by David L Ulin.

Five out of five stars for The Lost Art of Reading by David L Ulin. A very timely and interesting topic!

Many, many, thanks for the author, publisher, and net galley who gifted me a digital copy of this read in exchange for my honest feedback.
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This is an uninspired and uninspiring loose collection of laments from a man who is bored and boring.  

A hard pass.
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Turns out the lost art of reading equates to teenagers no longer being interested in the very white, very male, very-highbrow and insanely narrow list of authors that David L. Ulin deems acceptable. Who'da thunk it?
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David L. Ulin's The Lost Art of Reading was the type of non-fiction text I typically really enjoy: it makes a case for something (reading) and then uses a blend of anecdote and data to make the case. I think Ulin, for the most part, makes the case well: his own narrative of a lifetime love of reading is infectious. He breaks stories down into more than just things you sit with for an hour or two, but things that influence the way you interpret your life. In particular, I love the way he describes seeing different places he's traveled through the lens of different texts he's read. As someone who never goes anywhere without a book and who is just as likely to categorize people based on literary characters as Sex and the City characters, I could relate to his feelings pretty strongly.

That same strength, though, also works as the biggest flaw in his writing: he's preaching to the converted. For most people who weren't readers, the messages about reading changing the way you see the world wouldn't land, and the scenes from literature--especially the more obscure literature--would intimidate, confuse, and (frankly) bore a beginning reader. I'm not saying that it's Ulin's job to recruit new readers or initiate them into a bibliophile club or the like. Not at all. Still, one would think that if he wanted to write a book explaining the benefits of being a reader, he would want to reach out to non-readers rather than preach to a room of folks that agree with him. It's a bit self-indulgent and this book just isn't very accessible to those who aren't academics. . . and isn't it possible that that very issue has contributed to the decline in reading? All the gatekeeping has made it feel like reading is for the Niles and Frasiers of the world, not the Martins. Doing something to dispel that would have been a good move here.

I have to say, though, I still found this book to be a really worthwhile read and even though I think it will be very challenging for my students, I plan to use it in my comp class next Spring. There are many lines of conversations that are worth exploring through discussion and writing, and I look forward to seeing what my students will make of it. Maybe they'll prove me wrong and I'll find it is capable of converting non-readers after all.

Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC I was given in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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As an avid reader and a member of the resistance, I was excited to read this extended essay (originally published in 2010) and the new introduction added for our current era. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver on what it promised. Instead of being a call to action, an impassioned position on how reading enriches not only our individual lives but society as a whole, The Lost Art of Reading was mostly a purple-prose-filled whine about technology, interspersed with literati name-dropping and unnecessary tangents. The handful of times I did want to bookmark a page or highlight a sentence, the words were usually a quote that Ulin included from someone else. 

This essay was definitely of the "preaching to the choir" variety. Look, if you want to get more people interested in reading, you need way more of this rare inspiring type of statement:

"...when we read, we soul travel, in the sense that we join, or enter, the consciousness of another human. We empathize - we have to - because our experience is enlarged."

...even contrasted with this rare nail-on-the-head take-down of the internet comment-board culture:

"This is how we interact now, by mouthing off, steering every conversation back to our agendas, skimming the surface of each subject looking for an opportunity to spew."

...and WAY less complaining about how eReaders suck (hello, just be glad people are READING), lecturing that certain types of books just aren't up to snuff (again, be glad people are putting in the effort of actually reading), and flowery, rambling language that eventually gets around to making a point, but not before turning people off of reading all together.
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As a lifelong lover of reading, a book about the lost art of my favourite pastime cuts a little close to the bone! However, much of what Ulin discusses in this autobiographical exploration of his own relationship with literature in a world full of distraction, rings very true. One only has to look through twitter posts from fellow bookish folk for summaries of how we read - read a few pages, check twitter, read a few more, instagram etc. Ulin is clearly an erudite man and the books he discusses which particularly impacted his life are quoted with a real love and knowledge that is undeniable, particularly when placed in the literary canon. What I found a little off putting was just how dead, white and male that canon is, especially in the first half of the book. Very few female authors are mentioned, authors of colour are noticeably absent and I cannot help but feel that a book purporting to be about the art of reading is potentially losing a vast audience because it is not more inclusive. This is an updated edition featuring a new introduction and afterword, both of which discuss the current political climate in the US and how distracting this can be. There is a great deal of passion on display in this book, which is admirable and Ulin is persuasive in his arguments, but for me, there is more to explore. Ultimately, this is a timely book in some areas, but already feels a little dated in others and I would like to have seen more discussion about the reading community that I see engaging with each other on social media every day. 
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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This version of The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin is a revised edition previously published in 2010.  It contains a new Introduction and Afterword reflecting important cultural and technological changes that have occurred over the past eight years.  Ulin uses these updated sections to describe and bemoan current trends in the US in terms of freedom of speech, privacy concerns, censorship controversies, and race relations.  He does not hesitate to excoriate the election results of 2016, making his political opinions pretty clear from the start when he describes: “…the racist rhetoric that runs, like excrement, from the President’s mouth.”   It seems that Ulin could have written a separate book on that subject, especially given the fact that these parts of the book take up almost 25% of the total.  The rest of The Lost Art of Reading contains some very personal anecdotes and broad assumptions based on seemingly only on his own experience.  The author digresses into history and sports analogies, explaining that everything can be considered a “story” and is thus relevant to his discussion.  Ulin relates his own dismay at discovering an uncharacteristic inability to maintain sustained attention and interest in his reading.  He uses the frame of helping his son with a school assignment to demonstrate the younger generation’s lack of interest in traditional modes of reading. He notes that the Internet, with its sheer saturation effect and many distractions, has impeded people’s ability to concentrate on text as is required.  He also seems skeptical of the value of e-readers and cites their limitations, although his observations are based on outdated technology from 2010. This new release of The Lost Art of Reading would have benefitted from a complete update throughout so advances in this area could have been considered.  Ulin’s book is most interesting if approached more like an extended essay or personal memoir than a definitive text.  Those seeking a research-based or global approach to current trends in reading would be better served by searching elsewhere.
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The author provides insight into why reading is essential even in our digital era.  It is sad how few people utilize libraries and book stores.
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This book had my name on it.  Like many people, I struggle with internet dysfunction. (I refuse to call it addiction.) When I started this blog in December 2012, I decided to write a bookish post every day.   Imagine my shock when I discovered in 2014 that my book blog interfered with my reading.

In "The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time," David L. Ulin, a critic, essayist, and former editor of the "L.A. Times" book page, writes about his own struggle with interrupted reading.  This book-length essay, first published in 2010, reminds us of why we need to read deeply.  The book has been reissued with a new introduction by Ulin.

Ulin is like us, in that he has always been an avid reader and  remembers the cities he has visited in terms of bookstores.  (The world is just one big bookstore and we all know it.)  But he began to struggle with reading with full attention after he got high-speed internet in 2006.  During the 2008 election he was constantly checking the news on the internet.  He writes,

"I have a mental picture of myself at the computer, several on-screen windows open, one an email queue, one a piece of writing, the rest digital shards of reportage or documentation from a variety of sources: CNN, Reuters, Fox. I know this is apocryphal because, even in this era of extreme distraction, I am not a multitasker, but rather someone who does first one thing and then the next in scattered sequence, closing each application before opening another, looking, for the most part, at a single item at a time. And yet, something about this image strikes me with the force of metaphor, with the essence of emotional truth."

He writes about how our handheld devices, really high-powered computers, “shave seconds off our downtime,” and neurologists say that  the internet has rewired our brains. Ulin’s own concentration on reading books lessened as he gave in to irresistible urges to check the internet frequently.   And when his son, Noah, who does not like reading, complained about having to read "The Great Gatsby" for an English class, Ulin’s encouragement did not help much.  His teacher’s insistence on their annotating the text was ruining it for him.

Ulin finds his way back to reading, partly through rereading "The Great Gatsby. "  He reads it with no internet interruptions–the way he used to read.

He writes,

"And consciousness is what we now require, perhaps as much as ever—the space to sit in silence and to think. We need what I once called a quiet revolution, to resist the lures of clickbait and of gossip, to stand clear of all the fake news and the bots. A decade ago—or almost—when I first began to notice my distraction, I did not think of it entirely in political terms. I’m not so sure I do now either, although the lines have been more starkly drawn. Why does reading matter? Because language and narrative are what we have. Without them, we are just scared mammals reacting to the world around us, devoid of agency, of thought, betraying the necessary (and, yes, frightful) inheritance of our own consciousness."

An excellent book for readers in our time.  And, by the way, I blog less often now so I can read more.
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A book lovers dream! This is like that 5-hour conversation with college friends on nerdy topics you are convinced no one else would know anything about. Then you have that one friend everyone else shuts up and listens to: David Ulin is that guy! This is the deeply reflective book about books AND why this matters with today's social and political chaos.
One of my favorite quotes:"Why does reading and language matter? Because language and narrative are what we have. Without them, we are just scared mammals reacting to the world around us, devoid of agency, of thought, betraying the necessary (and yes, frightful) inheritance of our own consciousness."
Warm and thoughtful, this is also a great book for book clubs as every chapter would provide wonderful ideas to spark discussion. 
Get off Twitter and read this book!
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From reading the title of the book, I was expecting something different from it. 
But while reading it I discovered that I liked what I read. The author connects reading with critical thinking, individual and political identity, civic engagement, and resistance using his arguments which I found, some of them , to be convincing.
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As a graduate student, I read. For fun, I read. I recommend books to other people. I take recommendations from other people. I would judge that, by conservative estimate, I spend a decent seventy percent of my available time awake in the activity of reading. And while I have surrounded myself with a great number of people who engage in this same activity largely because they simply want to, I'm (we're) also aware that people like that are a rare breed. And a lot of the time is because, as Mr. Ulin points out, there is such a influx of information at all times of day that it seems impossible to teach a person of any age to sit down and allow themselves to sink into a book.

Reading a book is, I think, a submission of the self and of the world around you to whatever world it is that the book wants to take you to, and this requires a peculiar sort of concentration from a reader, what the author calls 'deep reading'. It's a kind of concentration that, as Ulin also points out, can both desert a reader and reinstate itself seemingly without cause or reason. 

The Lost Art of Reading is the second edition of the 2010 publication by the same name. The author has updated it a bit, added a preface and afterword that situates the reader with him in the present time (the afterword at least was written in February of 2018, the second edition published in September 2018). 'Turbulent' would be a decent candidate for the descriptor of the year two thousand and eighteen, among others less savoury that spring to mind. The Lost Art of Reading is a reminder that reading, an art form itself, both contributes to and is also shaped by the identity of the reader and the many ways that the author and reader interact, even if that author may be millennia departed. Reading breathes life back into the long gone, and books transmute into teachers, friends, fantasies, by the simple act of opening and reading them. It is a reminder that in reading, we absorb ideas and concepts, things that we take into ourselves that become part of our psyche and so part of who we are; reading teaches us to think, to analyze, to imagine. I'm going to have to locate a physical copy of this book, I think, when I'm in a larger place and can actually fit more books into my living space.
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I wanted to like this book more than I did. It just didn't capture my attention lime I thought it would. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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How can I dislike a book about reading, when I love to read?  Well, this one really turned me off. Not a fan.

Thanks to publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
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As a librarian and someone who has been devouring books nonstop since childhood, I really had high hopes for "The Lost Art of Reading" and what it had to say. Unfortunately, what I found instead was a very unfocused book that meandered aimlessly and would not let up with a near-constant barrage of references to other authors. It felt like any message that was supposed to get to me was hopelessly overwhelmed by the rambling writing style, and the incessant name-dropping that ended up unintentionally giving this all a distractingly pretentious tone. Even as I write this, I still don't have any grasp of what important lessons about reading were supposed to be imparted. For a book that tries to touch upon so much in its musings, it ended up actually saying very little, if anything.
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