Reading as Skill

On the shelves of any library, if it’s big enough, you’ll find things called jeremiads.

This term comes from the biblical Book of Jeremiah. In it, the titular prophet lamented the state of Israelite society, and warned of its imminent downfall.

Today, a jeremiad is a prolonged lamentation, or complaint about society, the literary version of an old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Such writings rarely have anything useful to say. They can say the same thing, over and over, and people will read them because they confirm their biases. Rarely are they clever, teach anything, or make you reflect.

One style of jeremiad that all librarians seem to ascribe is the profound observation that ‘people don’t read anymore.’ It’s not just the librarians that say this either. Social commentators of all stripes seem to think that Americans are becoming stupider simply because of the fact that people are too dumb, lazy, or screen obsessed to actually read something. Continue reading