Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 25, 2007 / 7 Iyar, 5767

America's death march toward illiteracy

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | People who read books are different from other people. They're smarter for one thing. They're more sensual for another. They like to hold, touch and smell what they read. They like to carry the words around with them — tote them on vacation, take them on train rides and then, most heavenly of all, to bed.


They're also a dying breed. And newspapers, apparent signatories to a suicide pact, are playing "Taps.''


The news that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has eliminated its book editor position — causing much Sturm und Drangthroughout the Southern literary community — highlights the continuing demotion of books and literature in American culture. While an Internet petition circulates to reinstate Teresa Weaver as book editor, writers are expressing concern that they're losing their best vehicle for recognition.


Soon, who knows? Maybe we'll be burning books in the town square chanting: We don't need no dadgum books. We got Innernet porn 'n' satellite TeeVee! OK, so maybe the end of civilization isn't nigh, but the systematic gutting of culture from newspapers is symptomatic of a broadening illiteracy that bodes ill for the republic.


From a practical standpoint, it also makes no sense. Clue: People who read newspapers are also likely book readers. So why do newspaper editors and publishers think that killing one of the few features that readers might — big word here — READ is a smart move in an era of newspaper decline?


Whereas 10 years ago, there were 10 to 12 stand-alone book sections in the country, today there are only five: The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, The San Diego Union-Tribune and The New York Times. Other large papers, such as the Los Angeles Times, have folded book pages into other sections of the paper.


Ironically, book publishers are partly to blame for the disappearing book sections, as they've cut advertising in print media. Instead, they prefer to spend on front-table book placement in stores that costs as much as $1 per volume and reportedly delivers more bang for the buck.


But where there are no ads, there are no book sections. Where there are no book sections, there are no reviews to send readers to the bookstore where, curiously, there are more books than ever — 50,000 published annually. Something doesn't quite compute.


Judging from the sheer number of volumes, a visitor to any Barnes & Noble would think that Homo sapiens Americanus has his nose buried in a book most of his waking day. In fact, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) found that fewer than half of Americans read literature.


Total book reading is also in decline, though not at the rate of literary reading. Between 1992 and 2002, the percentage of American adults who read any book dropped 7 percent, while literary reading (non-work-related reading of novels, short stories, poems or plays) dropped 14 percent, according to the NEA.


Reviews aren't just helpful to readers, but they also offer a higher quality of writing than readers typically find elsewhere in a newspaper. To read a review by the great Southern curmudgeon Florence King, who elevated book reviewing to a literary art form, was to wish the authors subjected to her scrutiny wrote as well.


Book reviews also aren't only about the book. They're about the conversation, the cultural dialogue and the marketplace of ideas. They're part of the human exchange that tells us who we are and that can't be duplicated on a book blog, a television interview or even by a tete-a-tete with Oprah.


Yet, as newspapers have lost advertising revenues and circulation has dipped, corporate owners have cut costs by eliminating the "nonessential'' parts. First went the cartoonists, then the Sunday magazines and now the book sections — all parts of the newspaper's soul.


It may be arguable that the soul is not essential to a body's functioning, but it's critical to what makes us human and that once made newspapers vibrant repositories of a community's values.


The loss of yet another book editor and the homogenization (or possible loss) of another review section may not cause the earth to shift on its axis, but it is symbolic of the devaluing of American letters. It is also symptomatic of a corporate culture that cares only about the bottom line and owes no allegiance to the immeasurable value of a community's uniqueness or the profit of an educated populace.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


Kathleen Parker Archives

© 2006, WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles