They are barren,devoid of Qur'anic wisdom.
Reading Alif, lam meem, is all they can do and not the wisdom behind what is written.
Reading stories of past nations gives wisdom about what they did wrong; human rights violations, economic mess, haves and have nots, etc.
We may progress one way but who and what is affected by our actions is not taken into consideration until it affects us back- having insight into the 'unseen' diminishes the negative results. Plastics in the oceans-poisons fish, CO2-earth warms up and seas rise, Iraq war-ISIS.......
Reading 1400 year old Book is only problematic if it is not from Allah- as it is we have to read it to gain or improve wisdom or else the Trumps rule the world. Sorry, too late!