Sat • Jan

Saturday, January 25, 2020



The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029


Free; advance registration required.

Digital-age readers find their minds wandering from anything longer than a tweet. As our appetite for books dwindles, we fear for the virtues in which we imagine that printed, bound objects once trained us: the patience to immerse ourselves in an imagined world, the curiosity to look beyond the day’s news, even the willingness to be alone.

However, touching and smelling objects on the shelves of the world’s great libraries convinced book historian and Rutgers professor Leah Price that no golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors warned against the very same solitary absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions. Printed books pioneered new technologies and new marketing strategies. That tradition continues as librarians, booksellers, and booklovers find ways to reinvent the book once more.

In this talk, Price will explore how readers have interacted with books over the centuries, and how bibliophiles and literature lovers can learn from their experiences.

About the Speaker

Leah Price HeadshotLeah Price is the Henry Rutgers Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University, where she teaches about the novel, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and French culture, and book history. She is also the founder and director of the Rutgers Initiative for the Book. Price is the author of several books, including What We Talk About When We Talk About Books, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, and The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel, and editor of several others, including Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books. She contributes to several literary publications, including the New York Times Book Review and the Times Literary Supplement. She was previously a professor at Harvard University, and designed the nineteenth-century module for HarvardX’s online course on the history of the book. Price holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University and an AB in Literature from Harvard University.