the road ahead

Deep Reading
May 4, 2009, 8:11 am
Filed under: business, ministry, spirituality


I read a recent post from the New York Times in which the author says the age of deep book reading is coming to an end. With the rise of electronic readers, it seems, from that writer’s perspective at least, that the general reading public will move away from focused reading of entire books.

According to that post, the age of “chunks” and customized books is upon us. In the future readers will select their favorite sections from their favorite writers’ content and make their own books–sort of like iTunes for books.

But for me reading is alive and well! I read in different ways–internet reading for scanning and quick summary review; however, on my desk right now are some books that are going to get a “deep” read.

What about you? Do you think book reading is dead?


16 Comments so far
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No one becomes a true scholar without deep reading.
I don’t even believe e-books will eradicate printed books- much more deep or heavy reading.

Comment by pochp

Don’t really think deep reading will go by the wayside. Just finished reading Demon, by Tosca Lee, a great fictional piece. Next, on the table are two other reads by Colson. Deep stuff is great stuff!

Long live good books – deep reads, whether of a difficult or simplistic sort. I do not see them going by the wayside completely, deep reads may ebb and flow. Solomon’s words come to mind, “making of the books there is no end,” (Ecc. 12:13 KJV). Also from the words of John the beloved, “that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written,” (John 21:25, granted in this context it is talking about the things that Jesus did, but the concept is there). Many books that should have been written, and there are more that should be written that are on the way!

Comment by David Brownlee

The internet is for quick reads, for news and information (like the newspaper) and for connecting folks in idle chatter (facebook, etc.). But many people still like books. Libraries are still busy places. Even the new electronic readers are trying to emulate full books in a package that looks like a book. the ability to sit and flip page to page, to study a passage and catch its meaning, is what separates the learned from the masses.

Comment by Mike

Deep reading? The only other type of reading I can imagine is the type you do in seminary when you have a 10 page paper due the next day and you haven’t done your research ahead of time. No, I am currently reading about 14 books, not including the five others on my, “I’ve started, but don’t have time to devote too” shelf. I may not sit down and read all the way through each book one at a time (a consequence of ADHD), But I love discovering new things and ideas. I constantly keep different books at my desk, everywhere I may sit down in my home, several in my computer case, and yes, I have an e-books on my blackberry, all of which I am reading. I can pick up any one of these books and share what I am learning from them. I believe that anyone who loves to learn will always read deep, whatever the medium. What you are describing is what many try to do with the Bible. They form what they choose to believe, and then proof text it. This is not only easy to do in our Bible study, but in any area of research. Therefore, we must be careful to “fully” understand what we read “in context” before reaching conclusions.

Comment by Scott Maxwell

It is scary to me to think that deep reading could become lost like the act of letter writing.

Comment by Jill Rockwell

If that’s true, I wish someone would tell my 8 year old. I can’t get her to brush her teeth, put on shoes, eat food or anything else. I feel like a bad father because all day I’m saying, “Hey, put down that book!” She’s read Robinson Crusoe, all the Narnia books, the Black Stallion books… pretty much anything in her reach.

Comment by Matt Mikalatos

I sure hope it doesn’t go away. I love to read. Christian fiction is my favorite but I do read other things as well. Right now I’m reading On Angels Wings, By Geoff Gorsuch. Its a great book on one pilot’s VietNam experience. Published by NavPress.

Comment by Janie

I don’t think young people know how to read non-fiction. That is why I require a reading log in my classes, a way to force people to interact with and reflect on their assigned readings. It has significantly helped some people who had no idea how to interact with non-fiction material.

Comment by Valerie Hess

Be careful Matt. You might be harming a genius which is always hard to handle.
Just a friendly advice: consult a psychologist about your daughter please.

Comment by pochp

For me, deep reading will never be dead. I’m one of the few writers I know who doesn’t own a kindle or other electronic reading device, because there’s nothing like holding a new book in your hands, opening to the first page, and diving in. I also love revisiting great books I’ve already read. There’s a generation for which this doesn’t hold true. And sadly, it will be their loss.

Comment by Sharon K. Souza

Random thoughts about print book use . . .

My son, a college junior, reads non-assigned books all the time. On his breaks from school he lives in the library. He uses the Internet also, but not as a replacement for books. In fact, when he wants to learn about a new topic, he’ll often read five or six books about it, cover to cover, one after the other. Unusual? Maybe, but he says his peers are also book readers, Internet not withstanding.

I’m 48, which may account for my book preference, but I’m in a reading group with two women in their 20s. We’re reading old Russian novels, the 800-page type. Twenty-something are supposed to prefer Internet, right? But nobody told my friends that.

I got an email a moment ago offering me a free downloadable book on a topic I’m interested in. But I didn’t download it. I’ll buy the print version first. I am on a computer all day for work. The last thing I want to do is be glued to one all evening, too. So, I’ll keep reading my print books, and for the most part, I’ll do it cover to cover. I have nine in progress currently.

Comment by Cynthia

I would be extremely disappointed if deep reading went away. In my opinion it is the best kind of reading and where I get the most out of it. I pray books as we know them now will be around forever. Nothing can replace them!

Comment by Robin Brownlee

I don’t see books going away, but I do see the industry reinventing itself some. These changes are not all about the current economy as some have said. I see publishing houses making changes to recognize some of the new trends, changes we need to stay on top of. This is nothing new, publishing has changed the way it delivered product before just as the music industry has moved from records to CDs to mp3 players and downloadable music. Will the book disappear? Of course not. Will the mix change? I think so. I do know these days it is changing on a daily basis and I for one am watching things closely. But one thing is sure, there will always be a place for a really good story, told well.

Comment by Rebekah

Oh, I hope our society doesn’t abandon deep reading. For me, I have a hard time scanning something because I feel like I’m neglecting some of what a good friend is telling me. I’m most likely too slow of a reader, but to me, it’s like eating dessert and enjoying every bite. I wonder if neglecting deep reading hampers the Holy Spirit’s speaking to us. Or I should say, hampers our openness to hear. Of course the Holy Spirit will do all He wants, but if we only scan and read portions, will we miss the full meal?

Comment by Kathy Collard Miller

One thing publishers in particular need to be careful about is whether they are encouraging the “snippitization” of reading by formating their books or Bibles into bite-sized, no-context little pieces. When we turn real books into something that looks like USA Today, deep reading can’t happen. The form of our books shapes the kind of reading (or non-reading) that will happen.

Comment by Glenn Paauw

Reading will never go away for those who desire to have knowledge the LORD. He said in
John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” if we are to be sanctify or to be like Christ we must learn of Him. When we read, we will go into the very mind of the people in the book. I come to know the very thoughts and intent of the author. When you read, you understand more about what is going on in a book than on TV or a movie. It never ceases to see something new in a book.

Comment by Silman Copley

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