Reading is one of the few distinctively human activities that set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.
As many scholars have noted, and Paul too mentions in her piece, reading, unlike spoken language, does not come naturally to human beings. Because it goes beyond mere biology, there is something profoundly spiritual -- however one understands that word -- about the human ability, and impulse, to read.
This book provides some very good models of academic writing and some useful hints on academic style.
A battle over books has erupted recently on the pages of The New York Times and Time.
And all of them contain references, examples and models that may help you to write better English. This is the book that we recommend for the Warwick pre-sessional course in English.
It has a lot of useful practice exercises covering all aspects of academic English, and it has an answer key so that the book can be used as a self-study tool.
In response, Annie Murphy Paul weighed in with "Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer." Her argument is that "deep reading," the kind of reading great literature requires, is a distinctive cognitive activity that contributes to our ability to empathize with others; it therefore can, in fact, makes us "smarter and nicer," among other things.
Yet these essays aren't so much coming to different conclusions as considering different questions.
But Paul examines the connection of great literature not to our moral selves, but to our spiritual selves.
What good literature can do and does do -- far greater than any importation of morality -- is touch the human soul.