If questioned about their leisure activities today, many would cite as their main choice watching TV or reading. Despite decades of egalitarian talk and theory, these still indicate a social division: whether or not they are frequent readers, most would consider reading to be respectable use of leisure time and TV watching to be very slightly shameful. Leisure TV seems to identify people as having ordinary interests, being unimaginative, even uncultured. This perception is interesting. People lament growing illiteracy, but still reading has not become tarnished or downgraded in the public eye; and certainly, the mass production and retail of books is one of the great commercial success stories of the twentieth century. Most people still value reading as an ability. It remains a key to social status as well as a central leisure activity — and big business.
KeywordsBurning Coherence Defend Lost Verse
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- 3.See Martyn Lyons ‘New Readers in the Nineteenth Century’ in Guglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier (eds) A History of Reading in the West (Cambridge: Polity, 1999).Google Scholar
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