By all accounts, Donald Trump is apathetic to the printed word. And his indifference seems even stronger when it comes to hard cover material. When the New Republic asked him in 2016 what books he read, he said, “I read passages, areas, chapters, I don't have time.” And it's not just the president who has an aversion to Book-Reading.

Read me a story

Citing Nielsen Bookscan this week, Bbc News reports that a new trend is developing with the advent of audiobooks. In the last five years, the sale of fiction recorded on tape has doubled. What's more, several well-known British authors have taken to skipping the writing process altogether and going straight to recording their stories.

If this trend continues, the act of reading will go the way of smoking jackets. Driving the books-on-tape boom, particularly fiction, are young males.

Is reading fiction for sissies?

Joanne Harris, one of the audiobook authors, known for her written novel “Chocolate and The Gospel of Loki,” who used to teach teenage boys, told BBC New that their interest in audiobooks doesn't surprise her: “I noticed that of all these boys of usually reasonably affluence families, so few of them read fiction for pleasure. I don't think this means that boys and men don't like stories. It's to do with the way they are perceived when they're younger. I had a lot of fathers of boys discouraging their sons from reading.” Can that be why Trump shuns fiction?

He doesn't think it's manly. Apparently, you're not a sissy if you tune into novels with a headset while, say, pumping iron at the gym.

Setting thinking aside

But not everyone thinks that having books read out loud to them to the exclusion of actually reading them is always a good thing. Sophie Hannah, author of Hercule Poirot mysteries fame now tells her stories on tape.

She told BBC that from her experience, hearing audiobooks get in the way of thinking: “The minute you try to use your brain for something else rather than listening, it just ruins the listening experience.”

Dosing out the art experience by the spoonful

The downside to audiobooks that Hannah observed can be said of the art experience now also undergoing a change: Some artists are acting out paintings rather than putting brush to canvas.

Deborah de Robertis has reenacted the reclining nude in Edouard Manet's “Olympia” by lying down unclothed in front of the painting at the Musee d'Orsay. She also aped Gustave Courbet's close-up of the female sex organ in his “Origin of the World” by exposing herself and telling the press that by bringing the painting to life, she improved the experience of viewing it. As well, at the Louvre, several artists prostrated themselves in front of Theodore Gericault's “Raft of the Medusa” in the manner of the dead and dying sailors.

These changes to the art and literature experience – being read to and having a painting spoon-fed, - may well transform us into mere receptacles – passive and mindless.

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