From the author of Proust and the Squid,
a lively, ambitious, and deeply informative epistolary book that
considers the future of the reading brain and our capacity for critical
thinking, empathy, and reflection as we become increasingly dependent on
A decade ago, Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid
revealed what we know about how the brain learns to read and how
reading changes the way we think and feel. Since then, the ways we
process written language have changed dramatically with many concerned
about both their own changes and that of children. New research on the
reading brain chronicles these changes in the brains of children and
adults as they learn to read while immersed in a digitally dominated
Drawing deeply on this research, this book comprises a
series of letters Wolf writes to us—her beloved readers—to describe her
concerns and her hopes about what is happening to the reading brain as
it unavoidably changes to adapt to digital mediums. Wolf raises
difficult questions, including:
- Will children learn to incorporate the full range of "deep reading" processes that are at the core of the expert reading brain?
the mix of a seemingly infinite set of distractions for children’s
attention and their quick access to immediate, voluminous information
alter their ability to think for themselves?
- With information at
their fingertips, will the next generation learn to build their own
storehouse of knowledge, which could impede the ability to make
analogies and draw inferences from what they know?
- Will all
these influences, in turn, change the formation in children and the use
in adults of "slower" cognitive processes like critical thinking,
personal reflection, imagination, and empathy that comprise deep reading
and that influence both how we think and how we live our lives?
the chain of digital influences ultimately influence the use of the
critical analytical and empathic capacities necessary for a democratic
- How can we preserve deep reading processes in future iterations of the reading brain?
- Who are the "good readers" of every epoch?
about attention span, critical reasoning, and over-reliance on
technology are never just about children—Wolf herself has found that,
though she is a reading expert, her ability to read deeply has been
impacted as she has become, inevitably, increasingly dependent on
Wolf draws on neuroscience, literature, education,
technology, and philosophy and blends historical, literary, and
scientific facts with down-to-earth examples and warm anecdotes to
illuminate complex ideas that culminate in a proposal for a biliterate
reading brain. Provocative and intriguing, Reader, Come Home is
a roadmap that provides a cautionary but hopeful perspective on the
impact of technology on our brains and our most essential intellectual
capacities—and what this could mean for our future.