About readers

Those who attack reading, or rather, those who attack readers for what they consider to be egocentric and self-centered entertainment base their accusation on the perception that in the eyes of the attackers, reading distances readers from the world. It distances them from other people. It allows them to indulge in fantasy and in fiction. It gives them an alibi for not taking part in community affairs. In fact, as every true reader knows, reading does exactly the opposite. Reading makes us push our noses against reality, it opens doors and windows on everything that is human. It refuses to allow us to look away from the most terrible and wonderful things happening in the world. Above all, it binds us to every other reader, near or far, contemporary or from a distant past or from a waiting future. When we read, wherever we are, we enter a community of readers that began thousands of years ago in a distant desert, a community that will not disappear until the last human disappears, and it may happen sooner than we think if we continue with our aberrant behavior . But in most societies it is difficult to overcome the prejudice against the intellectual act, and the fear of what a reader does in the secret sanctuary of the page.

Readers are often derided, excluded, while the citizen consumer is much preferred to the citizen reader because even if reading is essentially individual it almost always leads to the desire to share one’s impressions and passions, one’s loves and dislikes, to make connections with other readers.

Alberto Manguel, Espaço Atlântida director and donor, Lisbona (PT)

This article appeared in Italian on La Repubblica newspaper (October 2023), Opinions section, and is translated by Slow Words

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