Yesterday’s Breakpoint Commentary entitled “Be a Bookworm, Not a Goldfish: The Lost Art of Reading a Book” cited new findings from a Pew Research Center study that over 25% of Americans, and a whopping 1 in 3 American men, did not read a book in the past year. The article’s title is a reference to the now-common shockstistic (a word I just made up) that the human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. There’s debate about how true it is that we can no longer sustain thought for 8 seconds at a time, but the bigger point is that reading good books* can help us fight against the effects of our 21st century instant culture on our brains, and more importantly our minds and souls.
Author Eric Metaxas references professor Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind:
The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency—the belief that the here and now is all there is.
In terms of actual reading of text, Americans have never read more than they do today, with innumerable text messages, emails, tweets, posts, news feeds, and other updates. As Christians, how much more important is it for us to learn how to engage our minds and enter into dialogue with an author about sustained arguments, ideas, or imagined worlds and characters so that we can become more reasonable, thoughtful, attentive students of the Word, and equipped to fight against all that is in the world that that tells us “that the here and now is all there is”!
While Metaxas brings up ideas and arguments that are familiar to us, especially if you’ve been in one of the “Effects of Living in the Internet Age” or “Technology and the Brain” type of workshops we have had, I appreciated reading this commentary and recommitting myself to defying the norm, and fighting for my mind and for my soul!
And as the Gracepoint “book lady,” I’m so happy that we at Gracepoint Berkeley church, as well as our other church plants, are doing what we can to defy these statistics together! It warms my heart when I receive emails from people who say they’ve read more in the last year than they did in all of undergrad. Sadly, just STARTING the Winter Reading Challenge will put you ahead of a good chunk of Americans. Not only are we refusing to be goldfish by being bookworms, I think many of us are on the way to being book dragons. 🙂
How many books did you read in 2016? Remember, more important than the number of books, is growing as a reader! Did you read more than you did in 2015?
* You can check out Breakpoint’s Recommended Reading List. It has lots of books that we carry at the store. 🙂
Thank you for promoting reading Emily! I’ve definitely read a lot more this year because of Bibliopolis. I counted how many books I read in 2015 vs 2016, and I think I will read more than twice as much as I did last year by the end of the year! (I read 9 in 2015, have read 15 so far, planning to read at least 5 more for the winter challenge.) Woohoo!
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Thank you for promoting reading GOOD books! I grew up with my nose in a book, but what I read wasn’t always quality or edifying. So thankful for Bibliopolis, the recommended reading list and the Summer Challenge, which pushed me to read different genres!