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23.1.14

Reading Books is Fundamental


The old adage says that Armenian people do not read. Moreover, in the past ninety years, books in the Diaspora have been published in editions between 200 and 2,000 copies. The same has happened in Armenia after independence. We are "happy" to report that we are not alone, according to an article by Charles M. Blow with the abovementioned title, of which we give the following excerpt:
James Baldwin, one of the authors who most spoke to my spirit, once put it this way:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.
That is the inimitable power of literature, to give context and meaning to the trials and triumphs of living. That is why it was particularly distressing that The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann pointed out Tuesday that:
“The Pew Research Center reported last week that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.”
The details of the Pew report are quite interesting and somewhat counterintuitive. Among American adults, women were more likely to have read at least one book in the last 12 months than men. Blacks were more likely to have read a book than whites or Hispanics. People aged 18-29 were more likely to have read a book than those in any other age group. And there was little difference in readership among urban, suburban and rural population.
I understand that we are now inundated with information, and people’s reading habits have become fragmented to some degree by bite-size nuggets of text messages and social media, and that takes up much of the time that could otherwise be devoted to long-form reading. I get it. And I don’t take a troglodytic view of social media. I participate and enjoy it.
But reading texts is not the same as reading a text.
There is no intellectual equivalent to allowing oneself the time and space to get lost in another person’s mind, because in so doing we find ourselves.

"The New York Times," January 23, 2014

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