Modern man is a voracious reader who has never learned to read well. Part of the trouble is that he is taught to read drivel that is hardly worth reading well. (There was a time when Jewish children learned to read by reading the Bible.)
One ends up by reading mainly newspapers and magazines -- ephemeral, anonymous trash that one scans on its way to the garbage can. One has no wish to remember it for any length of time; it is written as if to make sure that one won't; and one reads it in a manner that makes doubly sure. There is no person behind what one reads; not even a committee. Somebody wrote it in the first place -- if one can call that writing -- and then various other people took turns changing it. For the final result no one is responsible; and it rarely merits a serious response. It cries out to be forgotten soon, like the books on which one learned to read, in school. They were usually anonymous, too; or they should have been.
In adolescence students are suddenly turned loose on books worth reading, but generally don't know how to read them. And if, untaught, some instinct prompts them to read well, chances are that they are asked completely tone-deaf questions as soon as they have finished their assignment -- either making them feel that they read badly after all or spoiling something worthwhile for the rest of their lives.
We must learn to feel addressed by a book, by the human being behind it, as if a person spoke directly to us. A good book or essay or poem is not primarily an object to be put to use, or an object of experience: it is the voice of You speaking to me, requiring a response.
How many people read Buber or Kierkegaard that way? Nietzsche or Hegel? Tolstoy or Euripides? Or the Bible? Rather, how few do it?
Walter Kaufmann, in his prologue to his translation of Martin Buber's I and Thou, pp. 38-9