Research and scholarship
Some eight or nine years ago, I was talking to a colleague about how academics spend their time and he said: ‘I don’t think I’ve read a book for ages. I can’t remember the last time I read a book.’ Then he added that he had not read any articles either: ‘We just don’t have time for reading these days.’ The statement profoundly disturbed me and I have thought about it a great deal since. ‘What’, I thought, ‘are the long-term consequences of academics not reading?’ We used to talk about students going up to university to ‘read’ a particular subject. I can remember a sense of pride when someone in my social circle, knowing I was a university undergraduate, would ask me: ‘What are you reading?’ Nowadays, in our systems of mass higher education, the language has changed. ‘What are you studying?’ is much more likely to be asked and I am often surprised at how little time the students of today have for reading outside classroom hours.