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More thoughts on low interest in reading

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Greg Peck
March 21, 2013

I admit, I’m envious of author Michael Perry. He grew up in a relatively poor farm family without TV. Instead, he immersed himself in books. All that reading paid off—he’s now celebrated as one of Wisconsin’s top writers. I love the way he can turn a phrase and describe a rural Wisconsin scene not in a clichéd manner but in a fresh, clever and even humorous way.

My thoughts turned to Perry when I read Esther J. Cepeda’s column about how too few young people read today.

“A few weeks ago, I approached an apocalyptic-sounding essay in The New York Times titled ‘The Country That Stopped Reading,’” she begins today's column. “Finally, I thought, another pessimist to join me in bemoaning the awful state of reading in America.

“The author, David Toscana, was actually writing about Mexico. But he paralleled what I see here in this country. When he lamented that, in Mexico, baseline literacy is up but ‘the practice of reading an actual book is not,’ the observation rang true stateside.”

Unlike Perry, I grew up reading too few books and spending way too many hours planted mindlessly in front of a television. It’s a habit I have yet to break. I know I need to read more, and that it could grow my vocabulary and improve my writing instincts. Yet too often, I get home exhausted from a day of reading newspaper material and sitting in front of a computer screen, and I’m too mentally exhausted and my eyes are too tired to pick up a book and stay awake for more than a few minutes. I can spend several work weeks chipping away at even a good book. Too often, it’s left to vacation time when I can dash through a book or two—and relish doing so.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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