Niall Ferguson, that good looking and clever historian, argues that the United States is “producing civilizational illiterates” who will soon have no ability to compete against the country’s global rivals. The bottom line: young Americans do not read. Here is a taste:
But the more important reason is that children who don’t read are cut off from the civilization of their ancestors.
Let’s take the 11 books on the syllabus for the spring 2012 semester: (1) Virgil’s Aeneid; (2) Ovid’s Metamorphoses; (3) Saint Augustine’s Confessions; (4) Dante’s The Divine Comedy; (5) Montaigne’s Essays; (6) Shakespeare’s King Lear; (7) Cervantes’s Don Quixote; (8) Goethe’s Faust; (9) Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; (10) Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; (11) Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.
I just took a quick look at my shelves and realized that I only own about half of these classics. I better rethink my book budget before I take my wife and kids to the cabin in the woods.