Reading is Believing

I’ve been tracking youth reading habits and test scores for a long time, but I’ve never asked this question: What becomes of a faith that places a book at the center of worship if the rising generation doesn’t read? I don’t mean illiteracy. The problem is what reading researchers . . . . Continue Reading »

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Last year I posted in this space a reading plan of my own devising for working through all of Shakespeare's works. I made some work for myself when I created this plan, because I settled on reading plays Monday through Friday, and sonnets and other poems on weekends. Thus it needs annual . . . . Continue Reading »

What We've Been Reading—7.31.15

I am in the first 50 page of Midcentury, a 1961 novel by John Dos Passos. Dos Passos (born 1896, died 1970) is largely forgotten today. He doesn't even appear much on syllabi in undergraduate American literature courses. There are two reasons for that. One is Dos Passos' politics. Like so many others, he started out as a writer on the left, in the 30s flirting with the Communist Party and joining Hemingway in Spain to help in the fight against the Fascists. The murderous conduct of Stalinists in Spain turned him off of communism, and further world events pushed him farther right during and after the war. The more he came to despise collectivism, even to the point of briefly supporting Joe McCarthy, the less the literary world favored him. The other reason Dos Passos has disappeared is literary. (Randy Boyogoda's essay in the current issue of First Things directly relates to this point.) His fiction comes out of an era in which the novel was a great carrier of history and ideas. Continue Reading »