The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

Alan Jacobs

Alan Jacobs, a professor at Baylor, has written a superb biography of C.S. Lewis, The Narnian.  (I consider it the best I’ve read, slightly better than the one by Alister McGrath.)

 I am always interested in books on reading by bright people.  (The novelist Pat Conroy has a superb one, My Reading Life.)  This was not a book on books, but a book on reading.  It was a bit underwhelming but perhaps my expectations were too high after reading the Lewis biography.

 Jacobs is rather unique, a bit iconoclastic.  He is certainly bright – and well-read.

 Here are some of his key points about reading:

 1.     Read for pleasure.  Read what you want to read.  Avoid reading lists of the great books at all costs!

 2.     Read slowly.  Re-read your favorite books.  Enjoy your reading.

 3.     Engage with the writer.  Mark the book up with notations.

 4.     Some people don’t love to read so much as they love to have read.