Tag Archives: reading

Why fiction?

I have a friend who won’t read fiction. He doesn’t eschew just the fun stuff that I enjoy and use to escape, but even the more difficult (though just as enjoyable) classics and serious fiction. He just doesn’t see the point. He’s not the only one. I run into a lot of people like that.

Now, granted, there are a lot of demands on our time. We’ve got jobs and careers (not necessarily the same thing), families, civic involvement, American Idol, and Facebook to worry about. The bills have to be paid, and the kids have to be fed.

But reading, and reading fiction, too, should never be neglected. There are few experiences like reading fiction to help access the inner man, use our imagination to learn empathy, view other perspectives, and expand our world view. I’m not saying that there aren’t other ways; just that reading fiction is a great way to do it.


Today, I ran across this simple statement from Isaac Asimov, and while it is just that: a simple statement, it is right to the point.

PS: I have not verified its authenticity.

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Newsflash: Book ownership an indicator of education levels – ksl.com

My Better-Half, always alert to improving our children’s chances, sent me an article yesterday. More books around the house will be an indicator how well our kids will do educationally, she said.

According to the link to KSL.com

Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books. -Research in Social Stratification and Mobility

That’s right. The more books, the more education your kids are likely to get. Laura Miller, over at Salon, fills in the details (from KSL‘s notably thin story)

The study (authored by M.D.R. Evans, Jonathan Kelley, Joanna Sikorac and Donald J. Treimand) looked at samples from 27 nations, and according to its abstract, found that growing up in a household with 500 or more books is “as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father.” Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.

The study notes that buying your children twelve books at the beginning of summer break can help deter the educational slide that happens between spring and fall.

Thanks for the tip, I told my wife. However, I don’t think our kids will have a problem putting their hands on any interesting reads. And if twelve is all it takes, we shouldn’t have a problem finding something interesting for the kids to read. If they do, they’ve probably got bigger problems than reading will solve…

I mean, I guess they might not notice the shelves, but really? We buy books the way some women buy shoes.

via Book ownership an indicator of education levels – ksl.com.

“Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does” by George Will

I recently picked up an old book by one of the more articulate columnists and thinkers I enjoy reading, “Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does” by George Will.

In this circa 1983 book, Will writes in tight, literate sentences, unraveling the genealogy of conservatism, questioning what it is that conservatives really believe. He asks if government should be as passive and uninvolved in society as modern conservatives seem to preach. Individualism, it seems, is not as healthy for our culture as we would believe.

It is time to come up from individualism. We have had quite enough of the Leatherstocking Tales, thank you. We need a literature of cheerful sociability, novels of social “thickness” that make society seem a complex but friendly place where social relationships facilitate rather than frustrate individualism and “self-realization.” And we need a public philosophy that can rectify the current imbalance between the political order’s meticulous concern for material well-being and its fastidious withdrawal from concern for the inner lives and moral character of citizens. In fine, we must rethink today’s constricted notion of the legitimate uses of the law.

But should the law guide and shape society? Or should it be the embodiment of societies morals?