Takeaways from "Reader, Come Home"

Finished reading: Reader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf 📚

Deep Reading helps us develop and exercise empathy. It does this by helping us visualize others:

“Drama makes more visible what each of us does when we pass over in our deepest, most immersive forms of reading. We welcome the Other as a guest within ourselves, and sometimes we become Other. For a moment in time we leave ourselves; and when we return, sometimes expanded and strengthened, we are changed both intellectually and emotionally”

When we read fiction closely, we activate regions of the brain that literally place us in the world of the Other. Reading shallowly online, we lose that capability. Empathy is also dependent on our own background knowledge. The more we read deeply, the more we add to that knowledge.

“The quality of our thought depends on the background knowledge and feelings we each bring to bear. Albert Einstein said that our theories of the world determine what we see. So also in reading. We must have our own wheelhouse of facts to see and evaluate new information, whatever the medium”

Deep Reading improves our analytical processes.

“From the standpoint of the reading brain, critical thought represents the full sum of the scientific-method processes. It synthesizes the text’s content with our background knowledge, analogies, deductions, inductions, and inferences and then uses this synthesis to evaluate the author’s underlying assumptions, interpretations, and conclusions”

Deep Reading helps us develop insight, but requires a high quality of attention, which is impossible with digital distraction.

“…if information is continuously perceived as a form of entertainment at the surface level, it remains on the surface, potentially impeding real thinking, rather than deepening it.”

How we read is critical. Reading online negatively impacts our ability to process sequencing of information and memory for detail:

“…our increased reliance on external forms of memory, combined with the attention-dividing bombardment by multiple sources of information, is cumulatively altering the quality and capacities of our working memory and ultimately its consolidation in long-term memory”

We need to read with a “quiet eye” - with a high quality of attention. This requires cognitive patience, and reading with intention.

“The atrophy and gradual disuse of our analytical and reflective capacities as individuals are the worst enemies of a truly democratic society, for whatever reason, in whatever medium, in whatever age. "

“So also the experience in the third life of the good reader: to be continuously engaged in trying to reach and express our best thoughts so as to expand an ever truer, more beautiful understanding of the universe and to lead lives based on this vision”

Keven Elliff @keven