I think it's pretty true when Birkerts says that "The old growth forests of philosophy have been logged and the owl of Minerva has fled." I'm pretty sure that true wisdom is rather rare these days. People always get so caught up in life that they don't allow themselves to see the "complete picture." The majority don't want to take the time to see beyond the obvious facts and make connections between them. They simply want to finish what they're currently reading and quickly move onto the next thing on their list. I admit that I've fallen into this mode as well, especially when I'm trying to decide on something new to read. There's just so much to choose from, even within a single topic, that it's completely overwhelming and I have no clue where to start. Then once I finish one book I want to start another so that I can cover as much ground as possible.
When it comes to serious reading, I'm definitely one of those people who will "crack the covers and slip into an alternate world." That's why I love reading so much. It's my escape from reality; I get to immerse myself and my thoughts in some totally different world, even if only for a short time. I don't think I'll ever abandon my skill of reading seriously.