Posted by: W. E. Poplaski | October 22, 2009

Weekly Read-Along—October 23, 2009: Staying Awake

Material for the Stout-Hearted Reader to Ruminate

♦ Essays, Lectures & Speeches ♦

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Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 –) is an American author living in Oregon.  She has published novels and collections of short stories, essays and poems.  Ms. Le Guin is best known as the author of the Books of Earthsea series, and the novels: The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed.  She has won the Hugo, Nebula and National Book Award, among others.

This week’s text is Ms. Le Guin’s essay “Staying Awake:  Notes on the alleged decline of reading”, which appeared in Harper’s Magazine, February 2008.  In it, she briefly traces the history of reading, noting, “I see a high point of reading in the United States from around 1850 to about 1950—call it the century of the book—the high point from which the doomsayers see us declining.”  She places much of the lament about the decline of reading at the door of corporate publishers whose definition of—

…a “good book” means a high gross and a “good writer” is one whose next book can be guaranteed to sell better than the last one…Their interest in books is self-interest, the profit that can be made out of them—or occasionally, for the top executives, the Murdochs and other Merdles, the political power they can wield through them; but that is merely self-interest again, personal profit.

Join others from around the world in this weekly reading event! You can find Le Guin’s text at this website:

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/02/0081907

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