Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What If People Stopped Reading?

Writing in The New Yorker, Caleb Crain warns that literary reading is fast disappearing as Americans are shifting attention to amusements. In "The Twilight of the Books," Crain cites a number of research reports from both the United States and the Netherlands and argues that we are just not reading as previous generations had read. Book sales per person are falling, reading scores at many grade levels are falling, and this generation of parents is producing a generation of young people who do not read books—and generally feel no loss ...

The impact of all this is more significant than some might think. Only 13 percent of Americans are thought to be able to take two contrasting newspaper editorials and come to a reasoned comparison. Then again, many Americana are not reading newspapers in the first place. This has obvious implications for our national discourse and politics.

For Christians, the concern must reach even deeper levels of concern. Christians are a "people of the Book." Our knowledge of God, the Gospel, and all things essential to our faith is found within a book, the written text of the Bible. Beyond this, while Christian witness is often oral in transmission, the survival of the church depends upon the availability of the Bible as the church's living witness to Jesus Christ. Put simply, Christians who are not deeply involved in a growing understanding of the Bible will find their faith fed, fueled, and formed by something other than the Bible.

According to a July 2004 Newsweek article, "Waiting for the Movie," young
adults between 18 and 34—category once known as the most active readers—now read the least dropping 28 percent since 1982.

Publishers seem to do the opposite in spite of this trend. Two decades ago,
the number of new books published annually in the United States was around
60,000. That figure, according to R.R. Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency, climbed to
more than 100,000 in the early 1990s. Last year saw a record 164,609 titles

So. . . if fewer people than ever are reading, why are more books than ever being published? Is there a connection to the growth of the blogosphere? More & more people feel that they have something to say, feed their egos, etc.

And so they blog.

Being a writer used to be seen as something for a professional - even a little bit exotic. And like a child who announced that she was going into acting, the response from parents was the same when the chosen career field was writing - it just wasn't practical. "How will you make a living?" was the inevitable response.

So many blogs - especially in the early days of the blogosphere - were nothing more than one's private diary, no longer private, but now shared with the world.
But once in a great while, a personal blog comes along that is more than a diary, but is just a personal. More than that, the author has something valuable to say.

Which brings me to one of the newest book titles out there - in fact, it's so new that it's not even available yet. The title is Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations. It's the very first book that we at ACWI will be producing in our brand-new division, ACW Publications. When we first read some samples of Heather's writing on her blog, here’s what we said:

  • She has a unique, very readable, voice–one that is comfortable for most readers.
  • She has the common touch, yet communicates deeply profound insights.
  • She is not "religious"–yet it is clear that her faith underlies everything she thinks and does.

It’s this last point that really connected with me personally. It’s central to what we at ACWI are all about: training and discipling Christians to live out a Biblical worldview in all areas of our lives.

You can get a sneak preview of the book right here.

And because you'll LOVE what you read, you can pre-order copies by dropping us an email.

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