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Book Recommendations & Other Musings

by Carol Tuttle

Carol Tuttle, Collection Services LibrarianAn act of resistance: return to deep reading

“To read—to engage single-mindedly, for art rather than application—is in its way an act of resistance.”—Joe Amon

Are you still doing the deep reading you used to do? You know what I mean, the type of reading where you become immersed in a book and forget your own world as you get caught up in the one created by the author? Joe Amon of The Denver Post laments there has “never been a more confounding, daunting time to be a reader. There’s less time, more options; less focus, more distraction.” In fact, the screen technology that permeates our lives with words may actually be destroying our ability to deep read. Mary Ann Wolf explores this phenomenon in her book Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. She states that when people process information in quick bursts (yeah, that’s our digital life) they don’t develop their capacity to form insight and context. Deep thinking is not engaged by quick reads of emojis and GIFs, or even short sentence bites. Children growing up now using digital media to read may never develop the deep reading skills that come with the longer context of the printed word. They may lack the “muscle” foundation for cognition and learning that deep reading provides. Those of us who learned to read before daily digital exposure have to re-train our reading just like we exercise a muscle to maintain tone.

Ready to undertake an exercise program to tone up those deep reading muscles? Books with short chapters may be a good place to start, easing your way into the longer read (remember cutting your reading teeth on chapter books as a new reader?). Maybe pick a title from the Listopia: Books with Short Chapters on Goodreads.

I got a good deep reading warmup with The Overstory by Richard Powers. It is a powerful novel that kept calling me back into deeper reading. The early chapters were like stand-alone stories that introduced the characters, then the novel pulled together the threads of their stories into a consuming plot with environmental themes. It left me thinking, and that’s what I look for in an engaging deep read.

My New Year’s resolution for 2019: Resist the “quick bite brain” by frequently reading deeply.

Carol Tuttle is the Collection Services Librarian for the Willoughby-Eastlake Library System. She is currently reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Find This Title at the Library

Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf

Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World