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Ebert: "Does Anyone Want to Be 'Well-Read'?"

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tishaLA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 12:59 PM
Original message
Ebert: "Does Anyone Want to Be 'Well-Read'?"
<...> I have always read for pleasure. I once thought I might be a professor of English, and made it through one year of PhD study at the University of Chicago before recognizing that film criticism had captured me full time. I was not congenitally a good student, but I was influenced by my teachers as role models. In graduate school at Illinois I had one of the great Shakespeare scholars, G. Blakemore Evans, general editor of the Riverside Shakespeare. I'd read Julius Caesar and Macbeth in high school, and then not another word until I entered his classroom. It was clear Evans knew Shakespeare and loved him. Visiting his office, so filled with musty volumes, I was captured by the romance of his occupation, started reading Shakespeare with a passion and never stopped--always using my worn-out Riverside edition, although I have three or four others.

I've written before about the mentor of my undergraduate years, Daniel Curley, he of the corduroy pants, Sears boots and rucksack. In English 101 he assigned us Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, James, Forster, Cather, Wharton, Joyce, Hemingway. I still read all of them. In 1960, he told us, 'What will last of Hemingway's work are the short stories and The Sun Also Rises.' Half a century later, I would say he was correct.

My first exposure to Henry James was the short story "The Real Thing." I thought no one had ever written sentences so obdurate and baffling. They had the fluency of a crossword puzzle. By the time I arrived at The Ambassadors, I was beginning to catch on. His sentences are a labyrinth of diffident but precise observation. In their construction is the creation of character; in their reluctance to boldly state something, we feel the reality of what goes unsaid. <...>

There is no pattern. My only goal is to enjoy reading. I learn that he average American teenager spends 17 minutes a weekend in voluntary reading. Surely that statistic is wrong. Do they mean reading of "serious" novels? I would certainly count science fiction, graphic novels, vampires, Harry Potter, newspapers, magazines, blogs--anything. Just to read for yourself for pleasure is the point. Dickens will come later, Henry James perhaps never.

At the end of the day, some authors will endure and most, including some very good ones, will not. Why do I think reading is important? It is such an effective medium between mind and mind. We think largely in words. A medium made only of words doesn't impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication. That's how you get pregnant. May you always be so. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/04/death_disports_with_writers_mo.html">Chicago Sun-Times

It's worth reading the whole thing, including the comments. And then pulling out a book.
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Adsos Letter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
1. K&R. I can't imagine life without books.
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Shiver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. That's because there is no life without books.
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Xenotime Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #2
43. Not true. There are people who can't read and make a good living.
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sofa king Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-18-11 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #43
85. I suspect a vast number of Americans haven't read a book this year.
That's not to say that they haven't read a lot this year, but most of the people younger than me don't have the attention span for a one-paragraph answer to a question, let alone a chapter or a volume.

And that's cool, because I will forever be an expert in any subject I choose, simply because I can explain it for longer than most others can focus. Talk for half a minute, wait for someone to interrupt me by changing the subject because they can't follow, punch the "smart guy" ticket, and count the riches which are soon to befall me, once I am no longer underemployed and impoverished.
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woo me with science Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:21 PM
Response to Original message
3. This is a class distinction, too.
I think book sales are up and reading is up among upper-class kids. It is the lower classes who are not reading and who don't see reading as a part of their daily lives.

The death of public libraries will contribute to this.
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csziggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
15. The death of printed books would contribute also
When I was a kid my family went to the public library once a week, without fail. Each of us would check out 4-5 books and we read all those before we went back the next week.

But Mom also bought used books for us from Goodwill. Our little town had no bookstore, but the used book shelves at Goodwill were a great resource. Mom found all the books on the reading lists from school. She and Dad also kept up with recommended and best seller book lists and she watched for those titles. Sure, she'd find them after they went down in popularity, but she found them for a dime or a quarter each instead of the new prices of $1.50 or more.

One of the biggest problems in our house was having enough shelf room for books. We had shelves behind the couch in the Florida room, in each bedroom, in the dining room, in the hallway - any space wide enough to stick a shelf in had one and they were always overfilled with books. And the ones that had not been bought used had been purchased from Hamilton Books, a remainder dealer that buys up books the stores haven't been able to sell. The only new books that had not been remaindered came from relatives as Christmas presents.

Even now, I do most of my book shopping at used book stores - sometimes I trade in my old books for ones I haven't read but since I keep more than I would ever sell, that doesn't happen too often.

If printed books go by the way side, then the used book market will disappear. The only way to buy a book will be by getting electronic books, which require relatively expensive devices and purchasing a license for a new "book" for each device. Although there are copyright free books available, as the copyright laws have gotten more restrictive, fewer books will be transitioning to that status in the future.
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. I love used book stores!
And I don't think print books will ever completely go away. However there's already an incredible wealth of public domain stuff already out there; I don't think people will ever be left wanting when it comes to cheap/free books for eReading.

Is there any way to stop the corporate bumrush of the copyright laws? This is something I care a lot about, but doing anything about it seems futile, especially with the makeup of the current SCOTUS.
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csziggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 09:31 PM
Response to Reply #20
77. With companies like Righthaven abusing copyright laws, there could be hope
That a relaxation might come about. (Look for the thread about the DU case with Righthaven.) But until the Supreme Court changes with more liberal justices there is not much hope.
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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #3
73. I disagree. Some of the most avid readers in my Junior High and High school came
from low income families. They borrowed almost everything they read from the school or city libraries, so money wasn't an issue in that respect. I think that reading was their escape from their rather grim surroundings, and sometimes they found something to relate to in the stories (I remember one guy who discovered Shakespeare's tragedies when he was almost out of school, and he became obsessed with them). The well-to-do kids spent their free time sailing and playing tennis (in the 70's and '80's).
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bengalherder Donating Member (718 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:23 PM
Response to Original message
4. Good article.
But still a whiff of 'if you haven't read these dead people you aren't literate'. From his list, I adore Mark Twain, have stumbled thru James, read most of the 'greats' listed in literature classes, their subject matter never setting me afire, although Raymond Chandler is someone I return to again and again...not really famous but oh so influential, just like the music I love.

And I will certainly challenge the meme that science fiction, graphic novels, etc aren't somehow serious enduring stories. Look at Moore's 'Watchmen', which is as thick,nuanced and literary as any novel and infinitely more readable than the John Barth my roomate once brought home from her college literature classes. Terry Pratchett, Harlan Ellison, Dan Simmons and Philip K Dick will be entertaining and challenging folks for a damn long time, science fiction ghetto or no.

Death is a huge hurdle for a writer. To be read after one's own time has passed, to still be relavent to the future is a big milestone. No matter how great one was in life at recording one's civilization, unless you can touch a thread of humanity that endures, you will always default to footnote-to-be read by bored and straining english majors who have been assured that you somehow matter.

But I do agree with Ebert, reading is the key to everything.
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. 'if you haven't read these dead people you aren't literate'.
Honestly, you kinda aren't.
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #8
36. Exactly.
They are classics - and cultural touchstones - for a reason.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #4
23. I'm mostly a sci-fi person and hate the snooty attitude against "genre" lit.
I think most "high" lit made in the past 50 years is pretentious, unreadable Postmodernist crap made to appeal to a tiny clique of academic lit snobs. That awful "poem" read during Obama's inauguration is an example.

IMO most of the mind-blowing, truly though-provoking literature is genre lit now. The "Dune" series is an example, as is David Brin's novels of his "Uplift" universe.
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REP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #23
27. Some genre fiction is truly amazing: Kornbluth, Hill, Vonnegut are some that come to mind
There have been some non-genre fiction, too, that has been lauded and is truly amazing; A Confededracy of Dunces springs to mind first and foremost but there are others.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #27
29. "100 Years of Solitude" is also good.
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REP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #29
40. Lots more good stuff too everywhere
Sure, some utter crap like Hosseini's child-rape fantasies get hyped up, but those won't be around forever.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #40
42. EWWWW!!!
:puke:
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WhiteTara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #29
80. In my top 5. n/t
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #23
33. Wow. If you think that Alexander poem is in anyway indicative of the best of what contemp poetry
has to offer. . . then I would probably suggest you stop holding forth on contemp poetry, because it's clear you don't read it and don't give a damn about it.

You hate the snooty attitude against genre lit (which I do too), yet you offer two JUST AS SNOOTY opinions re contemp poetry and postmodern lit? What a fucking joke.
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tishaLA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #33
41. no shit. and it wasn't even postmodern
At least in any way I'm familiar with the term postmodern.
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pipi_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #23
49. Exactly! What the hell does it matter
what someone reads, as long as he reads?

My dad was one of the most literate people I've ever known. He read constantly. He also did word puzzles. He had quite a vocabulary, and was pretty well educated as well, especially considering that he hadn't graduated from high school. I don't think he even got past 9th grade.

He didn't read the "Classics".

I just don't understand this elitist attitude of people who think they're so much better than those who have not read the "Classics". I'm always glad to see people just reading.

Oh, and the very first book I ever checked out of the library when I was about 7 years old...

"Harry The Dirty Dog"

That started my lifelong love for books. I worship them. :)

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 05:35 PM
Response to Reply #49
52. I agree, though I actually like the classics.
It's much of the recent "high Lit" that I don't like. It's much like the "high Art" of the last 50 years, glowered over by pretentious twits that insist on reading crazy esoteric meanings into nothing and if you call them on their BS they will just you that you are "not cultured enough to understand", or they will pull out the postmodern notion that the intent of the artist or writer is irrelevant and how the viewer/reader interprets it is all that matters so they are free to spout BS.
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tishaLA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:09 PM
Response to Reply #52
57. the "death of the author" argument
You reference about intentionality is a poststructuralist one, not a postmodern one. And really, I think it's fair to believe that authors may be intending to accomplish x in their writings, but in addition to x, y also happens (even without the author knowing he or she has done it) or, conversely, that while trying to accomplish x, the author instead undermines x .

Besides which, even if we were to accept what authors say their writing is about like articles of faith, we would still have a paltry record of what we could say about literary texts. It would mean we were limited to purely formalist analyses of the vast majority of texts; that might be enjoyable on some level (I practice what is called "new formalist criticism"), but it also leaves a good deal out. It would mean the death of feminist, Marxist, psychoanalytic, and queer criticism, among other things, all of which have given us important ways of experiencing the literary text and transforming the canon.
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #52
60. Or, you know, people read those books because they're fun.
What's more likely to be the case, your postmodern beret-wearing strawman, or the fact that some people enjoy books that you don't?
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pipi_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #60
66. I think it's cool that people like whatever books they like...
as long as they don't get all snooty about/with people who don't happen to enjoy the same kinds of books.

:)

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Magron Donating Member (80 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #23
78. Brother..
Pick up a David Weber book. It's the only place you're gonna find a hero you can believe in these days. :-D
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. I have been a bookworm since age 4, when I went from my sister's Dick, Jane, & Sally
Edited on Sun Apr-17-11 01:26 PM by kestrel91316
readers directly to my parents' large accumulation of National Geographic magazines (yes, I realize those are magazines and not books per se). As a child, the library was my favorite haunt. Even today, my TBR pile is at least 20 strong, and my list of books to acquire and read someday is over 100.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. I got you one better, I was reading when I was 3.
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I don't have a clue when I started reading.
Is this a thing most people know?
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 04:42 PM
Response to Reply #7
48. Well my niece taught herself to read at two. So there!
:rofl:
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:34 PM
Response to Original message
6. I agree with Tom Jefferson: "I could not live withour books!".
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panader0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:42 PM
Response to Original message
10. I read quite a bit
When I was young I read the "classics", starting with the Americans, then the Russians, English and French. My mother taught literature at Obama's high school (Punahou) where I graduated in '68. She had the high school football team read several Dickens works and they ended up loving it. I revisit older works occasionally,(have read everything by Jack Kerouac), sometimes the more obscure writers, but lately I have been reading lighter stuff, Carl Hiaasen and Dennis Lehane (although Lehane's 'The Given Day' is a serious novel).
Studies show that most of a persons thought are in word form. The more you read, the better you can communicate, and the smarter you become.


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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. "Studies show that most of a persons thought are in word form."
Do you remember at all where you saw this? Strikes me as fascinating, especially because I'm not sure what "form" my thoughts come in. (They don't really feel like words?) Would love to read if you have a link.
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pipi_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 05:31 PM
Response to Reply #14
50. I'm interested in finding out too, especially...
since my thoughts are not in word form.

I think in pictures and music, not words.

Which makes it real hard for me to communicate with people.

Verbally, anyway. Where I actually have to think of something within the space of a few seconds. Writing is easier, because I can sit and take my time. It's difficult for me to translate images and music into words. Like trying to describe the color orange to someone who's been blind all his life.
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Gabi Hayes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #10
17. ever heard this?
Jack Kerouac reads On the road / produced by Jim Sampas and Lee Ranaldo

CD/813.54/KEROUAC,J

Summary
The author reads his poetry. >>>and sections from On the Road, itself<<<<
Includes previously unpublished "Washington D.C. Blues" and some tracks of Jack singing the swing thing


Contents
Ain't we got fun (2:31) --
On the road (Jazz of the Beat Generation) (28:40) --
On the Road (Song) (2:16) --
Come rain or shine (3:37) --
Orizaba 210 Blues (9:32) --
When a woman loves a man (2:54) --
Leavin' town (3:00) --
Washington D.C. Blues (17:43) --
On the road (3:58)


.............

it's in my library, and you should be able to get it from yours, through Interlibrary Loan

maybe mine will send it to you, if there aren't any closer

the section "Jazz of the Beat Generation," where he reads the part on the west coast when they listen to the sax player is especially AWE-inspiring (his own voice)

being able to hear him read his own work.....what can I say?
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #10
25. I rarely think in words, I "think in pictures", so I reject that claim.
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Gabi Hayes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
11. former Illini undergrad/grad student checking in with this, from Freakonomics (I know), on
the presence of books in the household and its impact on testing:

http://voxbaby.blogspot.com/2005/05/books-and-freakonomics.html

In the book, the authors provide a theory--that having books in the home is an indicator for parents who are themselves smart and transmit this genetically or who value education (and instill this in many ways that are more critical than reading the actual books). They do explain the difference between causality and correlation, in this and many other instances.

But what is a parent to do in light of this? What exactly is prescriptive about the finding? The book has a Calvinist thread running through it. How do I know whether buying the book would be useful--maybe I'm the type of person who should have books in his home, because I am smart or I value education--but how do I know? I'll buy the books, just in case, to show that I am predetermined to have high-scoring kids ...



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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
12. The funny thing is that the works of Old Will were the popular entertainment of his time.
I wonder if he would be a Speilberg, or Hitchcock, or Stephen King if he were alive today.


The sad fact is that a great many of us are never exposed to the joys of reading while in school, so many see it as a chore, drudgery, boring schoolwork to be avoided.

There is so much out there to be read, great fiction, great philosophy, great histories and biographies...one could spend a lifetime reading and never come close to reading it all.


I always thought that Paradise was an infinite library filled with every written work of man, even those ancient texts lost when Alexandria was burned, and the time to read and comprehend all of them.
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anneboleyn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. Yes! The groundlings would throw food at the actors if they didn't like something
Will's plays were the "Jaws"-type blockbusters for the Elizabethans.
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #19
30. Can you imagine the hissing and booing every time a 'bad guy' entered the stage?
Shakespeare would be amused if saw a modern performance of, say, Richard III, with the audience sitting still and quiet as if in a church, instead of hissing every utterence of the actor doing the portayal.


Or getting the crap scared out of them by the witches in that play that shall remain nameless.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #12
26. Yup, Shakespeare was the popular entertainment of the Elizabethian Age.
I think if he lived today he would be a maker of blockbuster movies or epic TV miniseries.
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:20 PM
Response to Reply #12
32. Kind of like the episode of The Twilight Zone
in which the bookish Burgess Meredith was hiding and reading in the bank vault when an atomic explosion wiped everyone out. He then makes a beeline to the library to enjoy all the reading that living would not allow him otherwise.

That episode still sticks with me especially the ending.

At least in my community I still think we have a healthy representation of readers. In my daughters' groups are a great many readers. Actually many of them read more than my older daughter. In some cases I wonder to what end as one girl has reread Harry Potter so many times her books are falling apart.

Still nothing beats a good book with the time to read it.
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #32
44. I remember that episode distinctly.
Being a near-sighted kid that needed glasses at a very early age, it sent chills up my spine.

Thank God I could read without my glasses on, however.






Time is the only true enemy keeping us from our real selves.


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FloridaJudy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #12
68. And Dickens and Twain were once considered "hacks"
They wrote to pay the grocery bills. It's true they wrote some gawdawful stuff: no one but an English major slogs his or her way through Barnaby Rudge or Tom Sawyer, Detective these days (guilty as charged!). But they also wrote books that still will be read hundreds of years from now.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #68
75. I thought his essay "The Awful German Language" was hilarious.
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Keith Bee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
13. Shurlee yoojest
Wie reed buuks if yoo hav gunz?
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
16. "There's more to life than books, y'know,
but not much more. Not much more." - Morrissey
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. yep. . . there's eBooks!
:)
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
21. I need books. I must read.
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anneboleyn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
22. as an English lit professor, I appreciated Ebert's observations. Thanks for the link
to the full article. I will check it out. I am a nerd as I still read for pleasure, as much as possible anyway. One does not get to do much reading as an English professor (reading for one's own pleasure). Lots of grading and teaching though...
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tishaLA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:01 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. I'm in the same boat.
I teach antebellum American literature, gender, and sexuality studies. I virtually never get to the opportunity tree anything outside of those areas. One day I hope to be able to read a novel written in the century.
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. I am an engineer and I am amazed at how littile
reading many of my peers do. One engineer whose daughter is in the same grade as my older daughter wants to keep his daughter out of the 10th grade Honors English class because they read too much. I am thankful that they are finally streaming English since my daughter has had three very poor years of English instruction between 7th and 9th grade. The instruction was so poor that I have pulled my younger daughter out of 7th and 8th English and Social Studies, and I am doing my own integrated Homeschooling curriculum with these two subjects.

Most of my pleasure reading is non-fiction now though, but I do get a solid representation of classical reading in each year (especially now that I am reading the books that I have assigned to my daughter).

One way I have leveraged my time is to use audiobooks when I jog. While retention is not as great, it is still very informative and enjoyable.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. "keep his daughter out of the 10th grade Honors English class because they read too much." WTF???
That's messed up, how can you "read too much"? :wtf:
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. Takes away from the Math and Science instruction time
I know it is crazy, but I love the guy. He is a wonderful father and a kindred spirit (engineers who are not going anywhere in management), but it is a blind spot for him. His kids are all doing well (so far two have graduated in engineering, one is a 3rd year medical student, one is a 2nd year engineering student, and the baby is a 9th grader with a 4.0).

I know my Honors English class in High School probably cost me some on the GPA. A serious English class (like being a serious English teacher) takes time. It cannot be done wholesale. I would never sacrifice the opportunity for my daughters to experience as much great literature as possible, but there will be consequences. We live in an age which rewards the technocrat and not the philosopher. Another engineer friend of mine, who does appreciate great literature, constantly bemoans his state and the slavery represented by our relationship with our employer.

I am just happy to get a paycheck from my employer, and I understand that I will get paid by good ideas which gets product out the door.
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #31
38. The other day I read on DU that teacher's shouldn't teach fact
but rather just teach us how to find facts online. This would prevent us "clogging up our brains" with "useless junk." Oy.
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anneboleyn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #28
35. Great idea on the homeschooling. "Read too much?"
I agree with the other poster on that issue -- "read too much?" Like that is even possible! People just don't realize how crucial language is -- how important it is in so many areas, and how reading helps us become better writers. Even for fields that people don't traditionally think of as "writing" or "language" fields -- science, engineering etc. One still has to apply to grad schools, publish articles (at least for scientists, I don't know anything about engineering I'm afraid as far as that goes), apply for grants, write proposals, write letters of inquiry about jobs and other matters, and so on. Reading makes one a better writer. I remember my brother got his MBA with a guy who was such a poor writer that he was told to take an undergraduate English course to improve his writing (or else, one of the business profs told him, you will never get hired).
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Dappleganger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:12 PM
Response to Reply #28
59. My husband is an engineer and reads every day.
Now that he has a Nook (like me) he can take it with him to work.
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etherealtruth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:32 PM
Response to Original message
37. Books are life
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. This.
I'd go mad without the written word.
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Modern_Matthew Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
45. I hate elitist garbage like this. What can you expect from a movie critic, though? nt
Edited on Sun Apr-17-11 03:51 PM by Modern_Matthew
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #45
51. Books are elitist?
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #51
56. Dangerous ideas can be found in books.
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #45
65. Movie critics are elitist?
I am baffled.
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Exilednight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:56 PM
Response to Reply #45
70. You forgot the sarcasm tag. n/t
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-18-11 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #45
83. If you aren't jesting, you're defending ignorance. Do you think "Garfield" is literature?
Edited on Mon Apr-18-11 08:23 AM by WinkyDink
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
46. Why?
I love books and I read all the time. Nevertheless, "why" is a reasonable question.

Most of what I read wouldn't qualify me as *sniff* "well read" but then again, I'm not reading it to improve my status in anyone else's eyes.

Those who profess loudly to be well read generally only want to inspire the same kind of reaction that the purchaser of a new corvette does.

Doing it to learn something versus doing it to seek external validation. By all means, if you enjoy Henry James, (or Voltarire or Descartes or Cervantes) go for it - but don't tell me that it's a checkbox on a path to satisfactory humanity.

I don't care if my kids read Asimov or Heinlein or Rowling or whatever they want. Being perceived as well-read isn't the goal.
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pokerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
47. "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
Mark Twain
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alterfurz Donating Member (723 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 05:53 PM
Response to Original message
53. "Reading is the meditation of the West...
...plus you get to use someone else's mind." -- Kurt Vonnegut
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Missy Vixen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 06:08 PM
Response to Original message
54. Half of Americans did not read a book at all last year
I'm doing my best to read all the ones they did not.

:woohoo:
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Populist_Prole Donating Member (774 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 06:25 PM
Response to Original message
55. I'm shocked by the utter scorn directed at me and others who read and talk about books
Some of my co-workers are avid readers like me and we talk a lot about them, and the ideas therein. We're often regarded with derision, if not outright scorn, by the "give me sports or give me death" or pop-culture du-jour crowd. I can understand the disagreement, but not the hostility.
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Dappleganger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #55
58. Where we live that is pretty common...
"What is that? Never heard of it. Do they have a talk show?" and then the conversation ends as Miss Cheerleader continues to smack her gum while thumbing through People Magazine in the waiting room.

:shrug:
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #55
62. I, on the other hand, consider the local libraries and Barnes and Noble to be a temple.
Seriously, I think I'm at B&N 3 times a week, the employees there greet me by name when I come in! :rofl:
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pipi_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:55 PM
Response to Reply #55
69. I wonder what they think about people who like both...
For example, I love to read. I love music. I love the ballet. I also love football.

I like educational TV, and I also like the "lowbrow" shows.

Science, History, Geology, and fart jokes.


A strange mix... :7

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MilesColtrane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-18-11 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #55
84. "What are you readin' for?"
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themadstork Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:34 PM
Response to Original message
61. I don't think the situation is nearly as dire as he seems to.
Edited on Sun Apr-17-11 07:36 PM by themadstork
First, it's no tragedy that Allan Bloom, Anne Sextion, and Robert Lowell are supposedly no longer read (though I think they are anyway). They were always subpar, creatures of their era. And I don't know that even Bellow is as great as he claims.

But I think that quite a lot of people are reading, especially with the advent of ereading. I love the classics and have never really gotten the sense that they were dying out. I'm an aspiring writer in the beginning stages of submitting (ie getting rejected) and I don't feel like there's no reading audience out there. ePublishing will only make the book scene even more exciting. Anyone checked out the Amazon Singles stuff? As a reader and writer I find that to be freaking thrilling. We've got big stuff ahead of us. Books ain't going away.

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #61
64. I'm currently readin Moby Dick on my Nook right now.
Love having the classics for free.
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pipi_k Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:59 PM
Response to Reply #64
71. Reading a light mystery novel now on my Kindle, but next on my list
is "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court".

E-readers are awesome. :)
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mrmpa Donating Member (707 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
63. I was at the library yesterday, brought home 3 books for my
81 year old mother. One a large print mystery and 2 books with lots of photos, one about fashion in the 1940's and the other on fashion in the 1950's. You'd have thought I had just given her a million bucks.

I also got 2 books for myself.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
67. Real books are not going to go away.
If for no other reason than it takes no special technology to read them, unlike the various e-book systems out there. I can hardly wait to see what happens when the Kindle or Nook is "Upgraded" and now the books you'd previously downloaded can't be read on the new system. Just wait. It will happen.

I read constantly. I'm capable of being a bit of a snob about what I read, but I'm with those who defend science-fiction and other genres. Yeah, there's a lot of crap s-f out there, and chances are we'd disagree about which is the crap and which is the good stuff. But there's plenty of crap in mainstream literature.

Reading widely is one of the best things anyone can do, in my humble opinion.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 08:01 PM
Response to Original message
72. I used to not be able to go to sleep at night
if I didn't know where my Riverside was. lol

Blakey was supposed to be an amazing teacher. Ebert was lucky. :)
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66 dmhlt Donating Member (935 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
74. Ebert: "To know you live is to know you die."
(H)umans seem to be fairly unique in our ability for conscious thought. We see, we know, and we know we know.

This is a blessing and it carries a price. To know you live is to know you die.




Roger Ebert gazing at a pre-cancer bust of himself

The above quote is from Ebert's "A Quintessence of Dust" - a most worthwhile read:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/03/a_quintessence_of_dust.html

Maybe because, like Roger, I grew up in Illinois, cherish the cinema and am also a U of I alum - but I love that man!
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exboyfil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 09:30 PM
Response to Reply #74
76. Some of the fondest memories of my time with my
dad was sitting around watching Siskel and Ebert. To hear my dad rail about a movie like Dinner with Andre was always fun. They gave us some great memories.

I miss my dad, Siskel, and Ebert. Cancer is so cruel - it took the first two and has crippled the third.
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MedleyMisty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-17-11 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
79. I never got the accusations about "elitism" when it came to reading
I read classics growing up. Not to appear any certain way, but because they were the most appealing books in the bookstore. My mother boarded socks. After my father died, we moved to a single wide trailer out in the woods. It's really not like I was an upper middle class person trying to score social points.

Until I got online, I never even knew that intelligence and education and literacy were such highly charged topics. In my working class home town, the popular set was the Honors/AP kids, the most popular guy was the valedictorian, and I got respect for being the resident "genius". So coming online and getting flamed for talking about giftedness was a huge ass culture shock.

I thought about it for a bit, and figured it out.

As long as we charge exorbitant amounts of money for a college education, as long as schools are paid for by property taxes and only rich people have nice schools, reading will be seen as elitist.

There's an unconscious equation in the minds of more normally socialized Americans. It goes Intelligence = Education = Money = Worth.

It will take decades to break that equation down, but we need to do it. First of all - in our society, intelligence is more likely to actually mean "dropped the hell out of the conformity factory that is the American educational system". A college degree has barely anything to do with intelligence or ability to think. It's more a sign of how much money your parents have and how good you are at playing the learn to be a slave to corporations game. Our educational system is built to turn out docile workers.

A significantly high percentage of high school drop outs are intellectually gifted.

Education should not cost money, obviously.

And money = worth - well, that's at the root of all of our problems as a society right there, isn't it?
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-18-11 08:14 AM
Response to Reply #79
81. Great post!
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-18-11 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
82. I used to tell h.s. seniors that if they didn't read they were no different from one who can't.
Edited on Mon Apr-18-11 08:21 AM by WinkyDink
I didn't realize I was channeling Mark Twain (Post #47)!
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