Title: What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading
Author: Leah Price
Hardcover: 978-0465042685, $17.99
Imprint: New York: Basic, 2019
“Do you worry that you’ve lost patience for anything longer than a tweet? If so, you’re not alone. Digital-age pundits warn that as our appetite for books dwindles, so too do the virtues in which printed, bound objects once trained us: the willpower to focus on a sustained argument, the curiosity to look beyond the day’s news, the willingness to be alone.The shelves of the world’s great libraries, though, tell a more complicated story. Examining the wear and tear on the books that they contain, English professor Leah Price finds scant evidence that a golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers already skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors even forbade the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions.The evidence that books are dying proves even scarcer. In encounters with librarians, booksellers and activists who are reinventing old ways of reading, Price offers fresh hope to bibliophiles and literature lovers alike.”
“[Price] is not an elegist for print: her extraordinary grasp of every development in book history, from incunabula to beach reads, monasteries to bookmobiles, suggests that a love of printed matter need not be a form of nostalgia…Her radiant descriptions of the physical properties of books, the forensic traces-from smudges to candle wax-of earlier bodies holding them, immediately sent me to the Internet…”—Dan Chiasson, New Yorker
“Price’s book-unlike other examples of what she calls ‘autobibliography’-is funny and hopeful, rather than dour and pious…What We Talk About When We Talk About Books is an enjoyable tour, full of surprising byways into historical arcana.”—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times
“A witty, tonic rebuttal to the latest round of doomsday prognostications about the fate of literature.”—Wall Street Journal
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.