The Essay ‘Staying Awake’’ by Ursula Le Guin

Reading is on the decline and our reading skills are declining right along with the amount of reading we do. This is happening right across the board through both genders, all age groups and education levels, people are busy and they just do not have time to read books that they are not required to read for school or work. There are serious consequences to this neglect of reading that will continue to worsen if ignored. We need to take notice of what is happening to our culture and stop this situation from continuing, we must act to correct these issues that we are faced with. These things are discussed in the essay “Staying Awake’’ by Ursula K. Le Guin who uses the NEA essays “To Read or Not to Read’’ and “Reading at Risk’’ to support her argument that there is a decline in the amount of time that we are spending on reading and our ability to understand what it is that we are reading.The essay Staying Awake by Le Guin agrees with the NEA essays to a point, but she takes a different approach to present her essay, she also does not believe the reading decline to be as much of a gloom and doom situation as the NEA essays do, her thesis statement is “I want to question the assumption that books are on the way out. I think books are here to stay. It’s just not that many people ever did read them.’’(Le Guin p34) She says that readers have never been in the majority so why should that change now? (Le Guin p 34) Le Guin uses history as her background data she refers to the “century of the book,’’ (Le Guin p34) which was the peak of our reading abilities after that period of time the reading decline began. Being literate equals having control and separates the people who have power and control from those who do not. While the NEA essa…

…. Le Guin has found that there are many different reasons for why this is happening and they say what some of the reasons are for the decline in reading. They discuss the seriousness of the issue but are not in complete agreement about how serious this issue should be taken and what needs to be done to start solving the problem of declining reading. While reading is definitely in decline, Le Guin does not think that this declining reading issue is a situation that is completely hopeless. There may not be as many people reading books but someone will always want to read so they would never disappear completely. She believes that books will always have a purpose (If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book. (Le Guin p37)

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