Don't Know Much

Resolve to Read

Early data for 2022 indicate that print sales of books have declined by more than 4%, according to Publishers Weekly.

It is a troubling statistic, but not a surprising one. Just look around. Everybody is on a phone.

It is a problem–and a new pandemic–that has no name. So let’s give it one —  Preoccuphonia: The act of being constantly occupied, even addicted, to our smartphones. Maybe that isn’t so smart, after all.

In my new book, Great Short Books, I offer an solution to this obsession— a return to reading. Not as an escape, but as an antidote that helps mind, body, and spirit.


During  the pandemic lockdown, with a limited attention span, I read 58 great short books, each approximately 200 pages or less, and by a diverse group of writers. Getting through a little more than one book per week made it “A Year of Reading—Briefly.”

What I rediscovered is that books change lives, hearts, minds, and can fire the imagination. Books convey story and story inspires us. And they can provide, as Joseph Conrad wrote, “that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.” Reading improves our physical and psychological well-being—a fact supported by numerous studies, including a Yale study that says reading can add to your longevity.

Office of War Information, 1942, Library of Congress, Public Domain

And there is one more key element that must be underscored. Books are essential to preserving democracy. As the censorship battles continue, I believe that “Books are weapons in the War of Ideas,” the slogan of the Armed Services Editions that were provided free to U.S. military personnel during World War II. And I have no doubt: we are in the midst of a war of ideas.

I’d like to share the essential joy and value of reading books with everyone. A couple of suggestions I’d like to humbly offer:

  • If you read aloud to your children when they were young and they are grown up now, take back the time to read books yourself
  • Model reading to those around you. Be seen with a book in your hand on a bus or a train or at home in your armchair and enjoy the experience
  • Support a local independent bookseller who makes a rich selection of books available to the community
  • Support your local library where books are offered as an invaluable public service
  • Make the Reading Resolution in 2023: Make your own Year of Reading— Briefly

Happy New Year to All

Here are some key organizations leading the fight against book bans and other forms of censorship:

National Coalition Against Censorship

PEN America “Book Bans”

American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

FReadom Fighters

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) “What is Censorship?




The Latest From My Blog

GREAT SHORT BOOKS: A Year of Reading–Briefly

“An exciting guide to all that the world of fiction has to offer in 58 short novels…that, ‘like a first date,’ offer pleasure and excitement without commitment.” –The New York Times Book Review

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Don’t Know Much About® Edith Wharton

Born in New York City Knickerbocker society as Edith Newbold Jones, she achieved fame as Edith Wharton. You may know her fiction but don’t know her wartime story.

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