I felt my brain waking up during this episode of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast.

My guest is Alan Jacobs, Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor University, and author of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (goodness, I *love* that book).

It was such a delight to have him on the show to talk about those “shoulds” that often trip us up as readers, parents, and educators.

He invites us to read at whim, develop our own reading taste, and raise kids who do the same. Don’t miss this one!

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • why it’s important to develop your own taste, and to let your kids do the same
  • the value of reading books that don’t bring you joy
  • and Alan’s answer to the question: What is reading for? (this part is SO good)

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Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

2:12Question: Should I worry when my child is behind in reading levels?
3:23How reading ‘requirements’ have changed
10:07Reading at whim
12:10Trusting your gut
16:20Broccoli vs. a hot fudge sundae
18:03Francis Bacon … ‘some books should be tasted’
19:29Austin Kleon … ‘it’s just not for me’
23:03Fear in choosing books
25:54Books we love vs. important works
31:40The surprising delight of reading on a Kindle
36:48What is reading for?
46:20Let the kids speak

Links from this episode:

Quotes to remember:

“I truly think I would rather read an indifferent book on a lark than a fine one according to schedule and plan.” – Alan Jacobs in The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested.” – Francis Bacon

“When your kids sit down and you say, ‘You’re going to read this for an hour,’ …regardless of what they’re reading, one of the things you’re doing is giving them an hour’s practice in being attentive. That is huge in our society today.” – Alan Jacobs

Books from this episode:

Episode 145
The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday

* Description from Amazon: An unabridged edition, to include: The Unusual Soirée - The Anarchists' Council - The Tale of a Detective - The Feast of Fear - The Exposure - The Unaccountable Conduct of Professor de Worms - The Man in Spectacles - The Duel - The Criminals Chase the Police - The Earth in Anarchy - The Pursuit of ...

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The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

FROM SARAH:

Alan Jacobs is one of my very favorite nonfiction writers. I feel smarter after I've read them, and like my soul has been spiffed up, too. Don't miss my conversations with Alan Jacobs on the RAR Podcast: #145 The Importance of Reading at Whim and #163: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way.
In this book, Baylor University Professor Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. And the best kind of reading of all is reading at whim.

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The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)

The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books)

Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 145

**Description from Amazon: How The Book of Common Prayer became one of the most influential works in the English languageWhile many of us are familiar with such famous words as, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here. . ." or "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust," we may not know that they originated with The Book of Common ...

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The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 145

**Description from Amazon: The White Witch, Aslan, fauns and talking beasts, centaurs and epic battles between good and evil -- all these have become a part of our collective imagination through the classic volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia. Over the past half century, children everywhere have escaped into this world and de...

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The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))

The Recognitions (American Literature (Dalkey Archive))

**Description from Amazon: The book Jonathan Franzen dubbed the "ur-text of postwar fiction" and the "first great cultural critique, which, even if Heller and Pynchon hadn't read it while composing Catch-22 and V, managed to anticipate the spirit of both" The Recognitions is a masterwork about art and forgery, and the increas...

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The Confessions

The Confessions

**Description from Amazon: Widely regarded as the first modern autobiography, "The Confessions" is an astonishing work of acute psychological insight. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) argued passionately against the inequality he believed to be intrinsic to civilized society. In his "Confessions" he relives the first fifty-thr...

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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel

**Description from Amazon: At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England-until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity o...

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How to Think

How to Think

Author:
Series: Episodes, Episode 145

FROM SARAH:

Alan Jacobs is one of my very favorite nonfiction writers. I feel smarter after I've read them, and like my soul has been spiffed up, too. Don't miss my conversations with Alan Jacobs on the RAR Podcast: #145 The Importance of Reading at Whim and #163: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Most of us don't want to think, Jacobs writes. Thinking is trouble. Thinking can force us out of familiar, comforting habits, and it can complicate our relationships with like-minded friends. Finally, thinking is slow, and that's a problem when our habits of consuming information (mostly online) leave us lost in the spin cycle of social media, partisan bickering, and confirmation bias. In this smart, endlessly entertaining book, Jacobs diagnoses the many forces that act on us to prevent thinking - forces that have only worsened in the age of Twitter, "alternative facts", and information overload - and he also dispels the many myths we hold about what it means to think well. (For example: It's impossible to "think for yourself".)

More info →
Buy from Bookshop
Buy from Amazon

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