Writer Asserts That Books Will Survive

Elina Muradyan, Special to El Vaquero

Before reading a 20-minute segment from his book “The Lost Art of Reading,” on Oct. 30, Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin first spoke about the “level of distraction of contemporary culture,” such as the use of electronics and long workdays, which get in the way of more people wanting or having the time to pick up a book and read.

Addressing a gathering of students and professors in the student center, Ulin said people are distracted by our smartphones and social media sites, which take up more than enough of our time, leaving us with no time or desire to read a book. Reading has almost become a task for many.

Readers don’t read literature just for the simple enjoyment of it. Ulin also expressed that he is not opposed to digital reading, because electronic books have made more people who don’t read books, want to read.

He explained that he does not think that digital is better or that print is better, they are just different and it’s the personal preference of the reader.

He said that “the way words are laid out on a page determine how we feel about reading the book.” Also, we need to use digital space “as a creative landscape for reading and literature.”

In the book, Ulin writes about the time his son Noah was assigned to read and analyze “The Great Gatsby” for an English class. After growing frustrated with the book, Noah declared, “literature is dead.” This is what inspired Ulin to write his book. After reading a section from the book, there was an opportunity to ask questions.

In one of the questions someone asked if digital books are going to replace print, to which Ulin replied that he believes print is never going to go away because there are so many books out there already in print, and there are many more people who prefer print over electronic books.

He made a strong case that “a book is not alive until a reader enters the text.”