Monday, June 6

Makita Brottman: The Solitary Vice-Against Reading

From the back of the book
Mikita Brottman wonders, Just why is reading so great? It's a solitary practice, one that takes away from time that could be spent developing important social networking skills. Reading is not required for health, happiness, or a loving family. And, if reading is so important, why are catch and juvenile slogans like "Reading Changes Lives" and "Champions Read" needed to hammer the point home?
Fearlessly tackling the notion that non-readers are doomed to lives of despair and mental decay, Brottman makes the case that the value of reading lies not in its ability to ward of Alzheimer's or that it's a pleasant hobby. Rather, she argues that like that other well-known solitary vice, masturbation, reading is ultimately not an act of pleasure but a tool for self-exploration, one that allows people to see the world through the eyes of others and lets them travel deep into the darkness of the human condition.
This book captured my attention right from the introduction with the combination of fascinating material and an easy going style. Sadly it was unable to hold my interest past chapter three.
The first third of the book contains a spookily familiar childhood reminiscence (and coincidentally reading list). Here the author also manages to articulate feelings about reading, specifically Literature, that I would never be able to express so succinctly. But sadly after this the book runs off at a tangent that I was unwilling to follow.
Chapter 4 sings the merits of celebrity tell-alls, and while I am uninterested in the subject (a situation the author believes impossible) I persevered in the hope of a return to the delight of the earlier pages. It wasn't to be. The beginning of chapter 5 offered little of interest. Skimming the rest of the book I simply found more of the same. Chapter after chapter devoted to various incarnations of 'gossip' pages. I would allow that the subject has a place in a book of this nature but I put it that it is unworthy of a book in its own right (which is what this book, to all intents and purposes, becomes). At the end of each chapter an attempt is made to relate the contents back to the original theme of the book. I believe these attempts to be singularly unsuccessful.
This is not a book I would recommend but if the opportunity arose to read the first three chapters I would say go ahead and have a look but be willing to do as the author suggests and put it aside as soon as you find yourself no longer engaged. I think you can guess where that point was for me.- Lynn

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