The number of serious readers

Philip Roth : « I mean the numbers of readers is shrinking, just like the polar ice-cap. The number of serious readers. (…) A serious reader of fiction is an adult who reads, let's say, two or more hours a night, three or four nights a week, and by the end of two or three weeks he has read the book. A serious reader is not someone who reads for half an hour at a time and then picks the book up again on the beach a week later. While reading, serious readers aren't distracted by anything else. They put the kids to bed, and then they read. They don't watch TV intermittently or stop off and on to shop on-line or to talk on the phone. There is, indisputably, a rapidly diminishing number of serious readers, certainly in America. Of course, the cause is something more than just the multitudinous distractions of contemporary life. One must acknowledge the triumph of the screen. (…) My prediction is that in thirty years, if not sooner, there will be just as many people reading serious fiction in America as now read Latin poetry. A percentage do. But the number of people who find in literature a highly desirable source of sustaining pleasure and mental stimulation is sadly diminished ».

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