Why do people read?

Our reading club in the public library of Carboneras has started off with a workshop, aimed to help us all "read better." It has been more fun than I had expected -- our librarian María José Rufete has brought in

Waples, Douglas, Bernard Berlson, and Franklyn R. Bradshaw. 1940. What Reading Does to People. A Summary of Evidence on the Social Effects of Reading and a Statement of Problems for Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Excruciatingly dull--"pedestrian" the authors themselves call their conclusion, which is actually their starting point: that one has to take into account all the relevant "major factors"; survey of literature on reading tastes (who reads what), effects of propaganda (esp. Lasswell's work), etc. It is literally no more than "a summary of evidence," with no critique of any study mentioned. People read for (1) "instrumental effects" (learning something they want to know), (2) "prestige effects" (feeling better about themselves, e.g. by identifying with a dashing hero/heroine), (3) "reinforcement effects" (to strengthen their previously held opinions), (4) "aesthetic effects" (some people appreciate "belles lettres" for themselves), and/or (5) "respite effects" (to take a break). "Prestige" seems the most amusing as a category, could maybe become a short story.

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