Now that we have gathered in Barton Hall and met in small groups across the campus to discuss The Grapes of Wrath, here are a few final thoughts on books and reading.
The Reading Groups Guide web site provides us with a list of Freshman Summer Reading 2009. The length of that list suggests that it is popular and trendy for new students to read books as part of their orientation to college life. Students reading books. Sounds all good and academic.
But a recent Washington Post article, Literacy of College Grads is on Decline, tells a different story. Students are not reading books. At least not like they use to read them. What if The Grapes of Wrath is the last book our new students read while they are attending Cornell?
How do students really feel about reading this book? Here's a sampling of recent blog posts and media headlines:
Seems like we have a bit of a debate going on here. Liked the book, hated the book. Likes to read, hates to read. And that of course is what the Reading Project is all about -- sharing and discussing and debating the merits of a book. Finding value in reading and thinking about a range of ideas and issues.
John Steinbeck wrote a great book and we read it together this summer.
Starting tomorrow the Class of 2013 will assemble again, this time in various class rooms and labs and lecture halls all over campus. I hope that they will also find themselves in our 20 libraries from time to time...perhaps to look for another book to read.
[Image: The Great Reading Room of the University Library, now called the Dean Room in Uris Library.]