The Reading Mind

Marcel Proust may have said it best. “I believe,” said the great French novelist, “that reading, in its original essence, is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.”

Now, neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf says yes, but it’s more than that. The human brain, she says, is endlessly pliable. A generation of research that began on the humble squid shows that the very act of reading itself actually shapes the human brain. And reading has shaped our history, our culture, our civilization.

Now, in the digital age, we are reading less. She sees devolution.

This hour On Point: reading, Proust and the squid.


Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development at Tufts University and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.”

Constance Steinkuehler, professor of educational communication and technology, University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly.

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