I’ve been looking for more writing and commentary by Alan Jacobs. I found this, from 2011, which includes a 55 minute video of Jacobs discussing his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction.
Responding to the notion that “good” reading is limited to classical, or morally enriching literature, Jacobs quoted and expounded Auden: “Masterpieces should be reserved for the high holidays of the spirit.” Jacobs said Auden meant that when we think about the intensity of attention and focus that contemplating any great art demands of us, in the case of literature too, “it is frivolous to imagine you are up to the challenge of reading those every day.”
I liked his emphasis on reading for enjoyment, and I can also relate to the students he mentioned who asked for lists of “good books,” which perhaps everyone should read, a notion that he said made C.S. Lewis disparagingly remark [such lists were] “turning reading into a means of social-ethical hygiene.”
Regarding Kindle reading, Jacobs said he found Kindle reading helpful when he went through a period of difficulty focusing….it kept his thumbs busy. (That is one of the things I find annoying about Kindle books).
In answer to a question about audio books, Jacobs said that they are fundamentally different from being read to aloud because there is no personal connection, which is one of the great things about that experience. He stated that he, and his family gave up their experiment to listen to an audio book because they quickly lost interest. In his opinion, though, audio books can be enjoyable when driving a car. I agree.
The accompanying article briefly describes the book, which I’ve not read.