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Are Books an Endangered Species? 汉译

2014-06-05    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Are Books an Endangered Species?

Bob Greene

In the house where I grew up, we had a room we called the library. It wasn’t a real library, of course, it was just a small den dominated by a television set. But there were bookshelves built into all four walls, and hundreds of books—hardback books with spines of many colors—surrounded us in that room. The books, collected by my parents and grandparents throughout their lifetimes, were a part of my childhood.

My generation—the generation that came of age in the 1950s and 1960s—may be the last one to know that feeling, the feeling of being surrounded by millions of words; those words were the products of years of work by authors famous and obscure. For now in the midst of the 1970s, we are seeing a subtle but unmistakable turning away from such things. The houses of America, I fear, may soon include no room for libraries. The hardcover book—that symbol of the permanence of thought, the handing down of wisdom from one age to the next—may be a new addition to our list of endangered species.

I have friend who runs a bookstore in a Midwestern college town. He has found that he cannot sell hardback books; paperbacks are his stock in trade, and even those are a disappointment to him. “You know how we used to see people carrying around book bags?” he tells me. “Well, now I look out the window of my shop, and all I see are students carrying packages from the record stores. The students aren’t reading any more. They’re listening to albums.”
And indeed he may be right. Stories of problems young people have with reading are not new, but the trend seems to be worsening. Recently the chancellor of the University of Illinois’s branch campus in Chicago said that 10 percent of the freshmen at his university could read no better than the average eighth grader. As dismal a commentary as this, there is an even more chilling aspect to it: of those college freshmen whose reading skills were equivalent to the sixth to eighth-grade level, the chancellor reported that many had ranked in the top half of their high-school classes.

A professor at the same university said that even after four years on campus, some of the college graduates could hardly read or write. And the ramifications this situation brings to the nation are obvious, and will become even more so in the years to come. Those ramifications are already being felt in the cultural marketplace. A first work of fiction, if it has any luck at all, will sell perhaps 3,000 copies in its hardback edition. Publishers and authors know not to expect much better than that. And a record album? Well, a new group called Boston recently released an album of the same name. it is their first record. So far it has sold 3.5 million copies.

Much of the problem is that we live in a passive age. To listen to a record album, to sit through a movie, to watch a television show—all require nothing of the cultural consumer, save his mere presence. To read a book, though, takes an act of will on the part of the consumer. He must genuinely want to find out what is inside.

He cannot just sit there; he must do something, even though the something is as simple an action as opening the book, closing the door and beginning to read. In generations before my own, this was taken for granted as an important part of life. But now, in the day of the “information retrieval system,” such a reverence is not being placed on the reading, and then saving, of books. If a young American reads at all, he is far more likely to purchase a paperback that may be flipped through and then thrown away. In a disposable age, the book for keeping and rereading is an anachronism, a ponderous dinosaur in a highspeed society.











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