In the summer of 2010, I was joined by scores of Commentary readers on a weeklong cruise in Alaska. The cruise ship in question had 1,100 passengers. I saw hundreds of them reading for leisure and for pleasure, which is always a heartening sight. The great fear shared by all of us who dedicate our lives to writing, editing, and the promulgation of ideas is that the generations following ours have lost the love of reading books and long-form magazines. It is not the way they gather information; it is not the way they entertain themselves. We have been told that, for them, reading has been superseded by devices which supposedly induce the kinds of distractions that make it impossible to achieve the focus needed to pay attention to a book…or to Commentary.
Perhaps. But what stunned me on that cruise ship was how people over the age of 50 were reading. I spent a day counting and determined that two-thirds had Kindles (or the then-newfangled iPad). Only a third had paperbacks or hardcovers. And this was the summer of 2010, mind you, not this past summer. Clearly, these devices were not proving a hindrance to reading. They were, rather, providing readers with a new—in some ways, enhanced—means of reading.
About the Author
John Podhoretz is editor of COMMENTARY.