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The truth is, everyone needs an escape. Our American culture is largely based on escape. Our incredibly unmanageable national and personal debt reflect our need to escape reality regularly and live beyond our means. Our addiction to foreign oil, our cars and traveling constantly (even if part of this is in order to earn a living), our habitual use of electricity, electronics, our willingness to spend thousands of dollars we may or may not have on gadgets, movies, shows, entertainment of any and all varieties, our addiction to eating, to dieting, to exercise, to slothfulness, all represent our need for escape from the regularly scheduled obligations of our lives, and our attempting, over and over again, to find balance in our means of escape. What has been missing in the lives of most people I know of late is the old-fashioned art of, well, reading. I know the internet has made more material available than ever before to read and review, digest and research. Yet the art of just finding a book, sitting down and curling your legs underneath you, perhaps sipping on a coffee or tea, and getting lost in a great book is slowly eroding.
The electronic reading devices are making reading somewhat more "hip" these days, but I still miss the fact that people used to talk about books all the time. We share common cultural knowledge with one another in the form of movies, restaurants, television shows and music, but the information we share about reading is slowing way down.
Oprah's Book Club was not a reflection of the tremendous amount of reading that was being done in this country but rather Oprah's response to the lack of reading she perceived in the world around her.
The book clubs that have since been spawned are wonderful, but I can't help but think that the slow, steady, quiet, and personal art of reading is something so vibrant and so rich for people that if we don't salvage it, this will be a tragedy beyond measure.
Opening and getting lost in a good book is one of the best forms of escape that is available to people.