Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Are Books Still Relevant?

[Guest Post and Giveaway]

by Frances Lefkowitz, author of  TO HAVE NOT: A MEMOIR
We hear a lot these days about the end of reading, the death of the book, the triumph of all things virtual and wireless. As a reader, as well as a writer, these pronouncements scare me, because I believe the slow and delicious escape that comes from reading books is crucial to our sanity—especially as wirelessness makes this world increasingly fast and overwhelming. So when I was invited to speak at an English class at the local junior college, I was astounded, and oh-so-encouraged, by the reception these students gave to a visiting author. Clearly reading is alive and well, and even the young and texting still feel a reverence for the book.

The class had just spent a month studying my new book, a coming-of-age memoir about a rough-and-tumble childhood in 1970’s San Francisco. Their instructor had chosen to teach my book because she thought the subject matter—growing up poor, then trying to change my life with a scholarship to an Ivy League college, and discovering the complications of success and ambition—would speak to these students, who were at similar crossroads in their own lives. She also thought the direct, honest, and accessible voice seemed just right for engaging readers. Finally—and most satisfying for me to hear—she felt the book had rich literary merit, so she could use it to teach lessons on language, theme, extended metaphor, and other elements of English composition. So the class of 30 or so mostly 20-somethings had taken tests and written papers on my book, and even tried their hand at writing their own brief memoirs. Then, one afternoon, I joined them, to discuss the book and answer any questions they might have.

They had plenty of questions! But first, they had to text their friends and family to tell them that “the author” had arrived. And to take pictures with me on their cell phones. And to ask me to sign their books. And for those who had forgotten their books (these are college students, after all), to ask me to sign their notebooks. But when the excitement finally wore down and we got to their questions and comments, what impressed me most was how closely they had read the book, how well they understood it, and how much they appreciated it. They pointed out metaphors and images that they loved. They asked me about foreshadowing that I had not noticed before. They commented on the bittersweet themes and how they related to their own lives. In short, they demonstrated that even in this speedy, screen-focused day and age, books and authors still matter. And they restored my faith in the future of reading.

Frances Lefkowitz is an award-winning writer and author of the new memoir TO HAVE NOT.

To Have NotTime for a giveaway!  I have one copy of "To Have Not" available for giveaway.

To Enter fill out this FORMThe requirements for valid entry are below:
  • Comment on this post - comment on the article's content or leave a comment or question for the author or myself.
  • Be a follower of this blog by GFC or Subscription.
  • Giveaway is for US/Canada only.  Ends 1/28/11. 

Bonus Entry:  Follow my blog by any of these: twitter, facebook fan page, networked blogs, goodreads and spread the word!

Good luck to all who enter and thank you very much to Frances Lefkowitz for being with us today!  "To Have Not" is available for purchase on Amazon as well as other book retailers.  Click on the cover image to price or buy from Amazon.


  1. Thanks Frances, for the post. It is so nice to hear this perspective - one rarely gets to go into a classroom today and interact!
    Hope people keep reading, and authors write brilliant books :)

  2. I see more kids reading today than when I was little, so that to me is encouraging.

  3. It's great to encourage children to read; I see that they are up to the challenge. Bravo!


  4. As a retired Kindergarten teacher I always told my parents that the most important thing they could do with their child was to read to them.

  5. I have two kids in college and I think they do appreciate books. Although they don't have a lot of time to read we will have discussions about books they read in their classes.

  6. I'm in high school and I see lots of my friends reading and I'm glad that people still read in college, and i do mean actual reading not skimming or spark-notes.

  7. Thanks, everyone...your comments make me even more encouraged about the state of reading!

  8. I am enjoying all the comments as well! My daughters love to be read too. I hope all parents and caregivers put a focus on reading with their children. It expands their minds and helps them to learn and be creative. Once a reader... always a reader.

  9. great interview!

  10. It is so nice to see that a class still reads books closely. I am so used to seeing students who have no interest whatsoever in reading!

  11. I've always loved reading. We've worked on getting our 18 year old son to read more. He does enjoy it once he starts - in fact he'll usually finish a book in one sitting. I just wish he'd do it more often, but there seem to be so many other distractions these days. How encouraging to hear about a college class where the students took Frances Lefkowitz's book to heart. Yay!
    jryder416 at yahoo dot com

  12. I have always liked reading and i don't think books will ever really be replaced. They are the funnest thing on beach days!


  13. I enjoy reading so much that I will never give up the physical book. I do have a nook and ipad with all of the ereading apps on it but choose to keep the real thing alive because you never know when it all goes to hell-in-a-hand-basket and there's no power, I will have a book to read!

    Thanks for a great giveaway, I look forward to reading the works of a wonderful writer.

    Karen / lilk13

  14. "Say it ain't so, Joe!" I cannot imagine a world without books. There's something about turning the page and using your own imagination to escape.



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