In “Staying Awake: Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading,” Ursula K. Le Guin questions the assumption that books are on the way out. Historically, she points out, the majority of people have not been readers. But it is readers who, also historically, have had both economic and social power. “Literacy was not only the front door to any kind of individual economic and class advancement; it was an important social activity,” she writes.
She goes on to lament the damage corporate publishers are doing by focusing on formulaic best-sellers. She contrasts reading with electronic entertainment:
In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart into it.”
Read the article in the February issue of Harper’s Magazine, beginning on page 33, at the Parham Campus Library.