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2013年世界读书日: 我们为什么要阅读?
日期:2013-04-26 11:56


It doesn't matter if books are delivered in print or by smartphone, the main thing is to get lost in reading them. Reading books is vital for human development.
Why should we bother reading a book? All children say this occasionally. Many of the 12 million adults in Britain with reading difficulties repeat it to themselves daily. But for the first time in the 500 years since Johannes Gutenberg democratised reading, in a world of accelerating technology, increasing time poverty and diminishing attention spans, should they invest precious time sinking into a good book?
The discovery that our brains are physically changed by the experience of reading is something many of us will understand instinctively, as we think back to the way an extraordinary book had a transformative effect on the way we viewed the world. This transformation only takes place when we lose ourselves in a book, abandoning the emotional and mental chatter of the real world. That's why studies have found this kind of deep reading makes us more empathetic, or as Nicholas Carr puts it in his essay, The Dreams of Readers, "more alert to the inner lives of others".
研究发现阅读会从生理上改变我们的大脑,当我们回想一下一本特别的书是如何转变我们的世界观的时候,就会立刻地理解这种变化。只有当我们在情感上和精神上忽视现实世界的琐碎生活、完全沉迷于书中的时候,这种转变才会发生。这就是为什么研究发现深度阅读会让我们更加感同身受。或者说,正如美国作家尼古拉斯·卡尔在他的著作《读者的梦》中所描述的那样, “阅读能使人更容易注意到他人的内心生活。”
Rationally, we know that reading is the foundation stone of all education, and therefore an essential underpinning of the knowledge economy. So reading is – or should be – an aspect of public policy. But perhaps even more significant is its emotional role as the starting point for individual voyages of personal development and pleasure. Books can open up emotional, imaginative and historical landscapes that equal and extend the corridors of the web. They can help create and reinforce our sense of self.
If reading were to decline significantly, it would change the very nature of our species. If we, in the future, are no longer wired for solitary reflection and creative thought, we will be diminished. However, technology throws up as many solutions as it does challenges: for every door it closes, another opens. So the ability, offered by devices like e-readers, smartphones and tablets, to carry an entire library in your hand is an amazing opportunity. Publishers need to use every new piece of technology to embed long-form reading within our culture. We should concentrate on the message, not agonise over the medium. We should be agnostic on the platform, but evangelical about the content.
We must also get better at harnessing the ability of the internet to inform readers, and potential readers, about all the extraordinary new books that are published every year, and to renew their acquaintance with the best of rich literary tradition. The research shows that if we stop reading, we will be different people: less intricate, less empathetic, less interesting. There can hardly be a better reason for fighting to protect the future of the book.