The act of reading about reading itself always holds a special interest for me. I love to hear others muse about it, and I love to write about it. This what brought me to The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time by David L. Ulin. The physical hardcover is small. For a hardcover at 4.7 inches by 7.28 inches, the book is very distinctive on a shelf (when you can see it back there). That’s probably what drew me to the book itself. And, for a book to be about books and reading, I’m interested. Buying this from my local indie book store was a bonus (support them!).
I should mention, for such a small hardcover, the type wasn’t so small to be problematic. I didn’t have an issue there. Also, a moment to appreciate that cover. The blown-up view of books personifies the idea that we look closer at books. That we take our time to read what’s written. We don’t know what those books are, but we know they are books. I just love the minimalism of it.
Ulin’s musings on reading are pretty bang-on. Like this one: ”[Reading] can collapse the distances, bring us into not just the thoughts but also the perceptions of a writer, allow us, however fleetingly, to inhabit, literally, his or her eyes.”
Ulin argues for the ”slower, deeper, quieter” discourse that is reading a book. That we all know this is good is beside the point. In the act of reading Ulin’s book, we are doing what he asks us to do. We’re taking that slow, interesting and enlightened journey with him.
The wonder of weaving stories related to Ulin’s son Noah and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby speaks to good generational awareness of what reading is now in modern life, what it means to younger people and maybe touches on what this will be in the future. I myself am very interested in what books may become when the electronic form cracks the physical case, as it were.
I’ve never read Gatsby, but books have such a way about them. Reading Hemingway’s Movable Feast, we’re shown a Fitzgerald very much afraid to release this book to the world. Yet, from another view, it’s a life-changing work of art. This perhaps is part of the transcendence of books themselves.
Much like Ulin’s argument, you’ll benefit from taking your time and reading The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time without rushing.