The How and Why of Reading


Writing “in defense of reading” essays is an outmoded literary form. Leo Robson points out in an examination of a slew of new books that reading, unlike other pastimes such as smoking, is generally considered a healthy pursuit. Since nobody debates the merits of reading, defenders of the faith like Howard Bloom have focused instead on the “how to” and the “why.” These are the questions at the heart of new books by John Carey, Philip Davis, Wendy Lesser, and Rebecca Mead, all of which can be read, as Robson points out, while smoking.

Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →