Many doomsayers have documented the decline of America’s book culture: Jonathan Kozol illuminated the growing problem of adult illiteracy; E. D. Hirsch, Jr., revealed that a large number of Americans did not know the basic facts, dates, and concepts that supported cultural literacy; and Allan Bloom lamented that all knowledge was being relativized and thus trivialized.

Significantly, these prophets of woe used books to make their cases—books that sold well, were read, and widely discussed. Without belittling the mournful facts cited by the above authors, we think it is important also to affirm and celebrate where the book culture is alive and well, if not downright robust.

One area where books seem to be prospering is among the readers of this magazine. Our research indicates that CT subscribers average about eight hours a week reading books. Cumulatively, they spend over $30 million a year on books.

In this age of insta-books and movie tie-ins, what appears between two covers can sometimes have the intellectual substance of a TV sitcom. But those who read CT are apparently not reading these kinds of books. Based on ballotting and write-in votes for our annual book awards (p. 45), our readers have consistently chosen substance over glitter. Of all the books published last year, they have picked InterVarsity Press’s monumental Dictionary of Christianity in America as Book of the Year. Runner-up for Book of the Year is Moody Press’s multi-authored work on the theological state of televangelism, The Agony of Deceit. These authors and editors do not need to worry about Hollywood calling for the movie rights. Other books receiving awards in the seven categories show signs of having a lasting impact on the Christian community.

Thus we would like to affirm all of you who are diligent in keeping the light of knowledge aflame by burning the bedside lamp as you turn the pages. It is in these small acts that we preserve our humanity, manifest our hope, and keep the darkness at bay.

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