Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social


“THE point of books is to combat loneliness,” David Foster Wallace observes near the beginning of “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” David Lipsky’s recently published, book-length interview with him.

If you happen to be reading the book on the Kindle from Amazon, Mr. Wallace’s observation has an extra emphasis: a dotted underline running below the phrase. Not because Mr. Wallace or Mr. Lipsky felt that the point was worth stressing, but because a dozen or so other readers have highlighted the passage on their Kindles, making it one of the more “popular” passages in the book.

Amazon calls this new feature “popular highlights.” It may sound innocuous enough, but it augurs even bigger changes to come.

Though the feature can be disabled by the user, “popular highlights” will no doubt alarm Nicholas Carr, whose new book, “The Shallows,” argues that the compulsive skimming, linking and multitasking of our screen reading is undermining the deep, immersive focus that has defined book culture for centuries.

Full article in the NYT


I think the NYT is mistaking a function on the Kindle for a trend. And how is this different from buying a used textbook with highlighting or reading an ancient tome with marginalia?

If they wanted to talk about reading as a social activity, they should have stuck with time-honored classics like book clubs and storytimes.

I completely agree. It's become the tradition of Americans, who once deeply read to now spend their mornings skimming, flipping, and just scanning the news. Frequently while having coffee and bagel, driving their attention down even further. Surely the scourge of yellow journalism must be brought to an end and we can make newspapers illegal.

Wait, we're supposed to be complaining about the Internet now, not newspapers?

someone will comment on the headline of an article or on the first line without even "immersing" ourselves in it... we're humans, we react first, ...think third, a donut second.

No, the doughnut is always first.

this is not entierly true. there exist a lot of genuine reading aimed at scholarly publication and resarch.

Subscribe to Comments for "Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social"