Now in paperback, the author of the classic Proust and the Squid considers the future of the reading brain and our capacity for critical thinking, empathy, and reflection as we become increasingly dependent on digital technologies.
“Wolf is a lovely prose writer who draws not only on research but also on a broad range of literary references, historical examples, and personal anecdotes. The strongest parts of Reader, Come Home are her moving accounts of why reading matters, and her deeply detailed exploration of how the reading brain is being changed by screens…. Wolf makes a strong case for what we lose when we lose reading.”— San Francisco Chronicle
A decade ago, Maryanne Wolf ’s Proust and the Squid unraveled the tangled story of how the human brain learned to read and how reading has transformed our thoughts and emotions as a species. Now that we are completely immersed in the Internet and our digital devices, our ways of processing written language have altered dramatically. Many of us are concerned about the resulting changes within ourselves, and worry about what they may mean for the next generation.
Inspired by new research, Reader, Come Home describes in a series of letters Wolf ’s own concerns and hopes about what is happening to the brain as it adapts to digital mediums. She raises difficult questions:
• Will the next generation, immersed in multitasking and digital mediums, learn to develop “slower” and essential cognitive processes such as critical thinking, reflection, and empathy—all parts of deep reading?
• Will the seemingly continuous demands for our attention and immediate access to voluminous information change the development of personal storehouses of knowledge and affect our ability to make analogies, draw inferences, and arrive at independent judgments?
• Will the chain of digital influences ultimately impact critical analysis and empathy in our citizens—core elements of a democracy? Will potential changes in these capacities leave us more susceptible to fake news and demagoguery?
Drawing on historical, literary, and scientific sources, Wolf uses down-to-earth examples and warm anecdotes to illuminate complex ideas that culminate in an intriguing proposal for a biliterate reading brain. Hopeful and clear-eyed, Reader, Come Home provides a much-needed perspective on the impact of technology on our brains and what it means for the future of humankind.