Reading - 1940s

Books, reading and a general thirst for knowledge were considered essentials for a life-well-lived, one upon a time.

Reading - 1940s
Books, reading and a general thirst for knowledge were considered essentials for a life well-lived, once upon a time.
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Books In The Modern World – Chicago University Roundtable – NBC Radio – September 26, 1948 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Depending on your age and your environment, knowledge by way of books and reading was considered, at one time, a key element in quality of life and an essential ingredient in growing up in the 20th century.

Reading posed challenges and questions. It offered viewpoints for the inquiring mind to examine and evaluate. Ironically, this 1948 broadcast discussion voices concern that reading is becoming less essential for quality of life; that happiness is achieved more by things than by knowledge and that material gains don’t translate into personal satisfaction and that by reading and investigating, a truer sense of greater happiness can be achieved because it opens up the potential of infinite possibilities.

This episode of The Chicago University Roundtable becomes more of a debate over whether knowledge is key to a happy life or the acquiring of material possessions is.

In a way, there is much to run parallel between the world of 1948 and the world of 2020. Knowledge, education and curiosity seem to have taken a backseat to the pursuit of status and wealth the past few decades. Yet, then as now, the old cliche becomes the well-worn truth; The best things in life aren’t things.

So where do books come in to all this? Reading, as the panel acknowledges, is one of the key ingredients to achieving a truly happy and balanced life – maintaining a sense of curiosity is essential if we’re to survive. And that a society that is run purely on material gain is doomed. Somewhere, a balance has to be struck.

It’s fascinating to compare what life was like and what were debatable issues 72 years ago to what society is like now. That our fingertip access to knowledge and intellectual curiosity is largely ignored, and that in some quarters, knowledge is considered a vice rather than a virtue.

To get a better insight as to what we were thinking and what we were all about some 72 years ago, here is the September 26, 1948 broadcast of The Chicago University Roundtable as presented by the NBC Radio network.

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