A surprising number of books about reading have published lately. People worry that a number of factors place reading under pressure:
- Digital media hogging our attention
- The way literature is taught in schools
These factors have caused us to re-examine the activity of reading, quite apart from writing, writers, texts, and critical theory.
For those interested in the topic, I thought it might be useful to start a list of books about reading that have published in the last 10 years. They take diverse approaches. (This list does not include work on reading acquisition by elementary students or young adults.)
You’ll forgive me for listing my own book first.
The Future of Reading
Eric Purchase (Routledge 2019)
Rather than analysing or critiquing texts, this book examines what happens to us when we read: the complex human experience which frees us from certain boundaries and constraints, and then looks at how we can use this freedom of mind to creatively tackle much larger issues in the world.
The Future of the Word: An Eschatology of Reading
Tiffany Eberle Kriner (Fortress Press, 2014)
This eschatological future for texts impacts how we understand meaning making, from the level of semiology to that of hermeneutics. This book tells the story of how readers participate in the future of the word, the eschatology of texts.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading
Leah Price (Basic Books, 2019)
From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers already skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors even forbade the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions. The evidence that books are dying proves even scarcer. In encounters with librarians, booksellers and activists who are reinventing old ways of reading, Price offers fresh hope to bibliophiles and literature lovers alike.
Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading
Jason Merkoski (Sourcebooks, 2013)
For those who love books, collect books, own an e-reader, vow never to own one, or simply want to know where books are headed, this is a crucial guide to both the future of reading and to our digital culture as a whole.
Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World
Maryanne Wolf (Harper, 2018)
New research on the reading brain chronicles changes in the brains of children and adults as they learn to read while immersed in a digitally dominated medium. This book comprises a series of letters Wolf writes to us―her beloved readers―to describe her concerns and her hopes about what is happening to the reading brain as it unavoidably changes to adapt to digital mediums.
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction
Meghan Cox Gurdon (Harper, 2019)
The Enchanted Hour explains the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await children, whatever their class, nationality or family background. But it’s not just about bedtime stories for little kids: Reading aloud consoles, uplifts and invigorates at every age, deepening the intellectual lives and emotional well-being of teenagers and adults, too.
Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Tony Reinke (Crossway, 2011)
Sounds the call for Christians to reclaim the priority, privilege, and practice of reading. Reinke reminds us that God is the author of all knowledge, and it is his light we seek in all our reading.
On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books
Karen Swallow Prior (Brazos Press, 2018)
Reading great literature well has the power to cultivate virtue. Great literature increases knowledge of and desire for the good life by showing readers what virtue looks like and where vice leads. It is not just what one reads but how one reads that cultivates virtue.
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
Donalyn Miller (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Based, in part, on survey responses from adult readers as well as students, Reading in the Wild offers solid advice and strategies on how to develop, encourage, and assess five key reading habits that cultivate a lifelong love of reading.
The Gist of Reading
Andrew Elfenbein (Stanford University Press, 2018)
Grounded in the findings of empirical psychology, this book amends classic reader-response theory and attends to neglected aspects of reading that cannot be explained by traditional literary criticism.
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
Alan Jacobs (Oxford University Press, 2011)
Many have absorbed the puritanical message that reading is, first and foremost, good for you–the intellectual equivalent of eating your Brussels sprouts. For such people, indeed for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, and do so without shame, whether it be Stephen King or the King James Version of the Bible.
The Pleasures of Reading: A Booklover’s Alphabet
Catherine Ross (Libraries Unlimited, 2014)
The essays are unified by an underlying theory of reading that views readers as sense-makers, actively engaged in reading themselves into the text and reading the texts back into their own lives. It gives educators and librarians insights into their roles with readers and offers a message about the importance of pleasure reading.