I entirely agree, books are undervalued. Even if we only read fiction reading for pleasure is also a learning experience. I recall recommending to my daughter Ken Follett’s Winter Of The World, a novel that follows British, American, Russian and German families from the point the Nazis seized power in 1933 to a little past the end of World War 2. She loved the book but was most excited by the author’s descriptions of life in The Soviet Union under communism. Follett, who is very open about his left wing views but seldom lets them intrude on his writing, is brutally honest about the Soviet regime’s brutality and authoritarianism.
“I never knew the communists were such shits Dad, they were as bad as the Nazis,” she told me.
I asked her what she had been taught of that era in school history lessons.
“Nothing much,” she said, “We were taught the Nazis were evil and colonialism was bad but what we had on socialism was that it was all good, fairness, equality, jobs for everyone, that kind of stuff.
I wonder how many of her contemporaries have learned more history from well researched novels that from academic history which ought to deal in facts rather than propaganda.
I also enjoyed the linked article on audio books and was pleasantly surprised to learn information is absorbed from them almost as well as from the printed word. My wife, in hospital for a fairly lengthy convalescence after a serious illness, and unable to read because of unrelated eye problems, is just starting the first batch of audio books she has been bought, so the boost for audio is particularly welcome at this time.