no other reading in your whole life does.

ImageI’ve toyed over and over with the idea of getting an e-reader. I think I’m one of the only people I know who doesn’t have either an iPad or a Kindle. (Well, I do have a hand-me-down Kindle but that’s not the point.)

The point is that I excitedly loaded a few (free) literary classics that I had been meaning to read and then promptly read none of them. I signed up for an online literature course and downloaded the whole reading list to the Kindle and then read none of those.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of being able to carry ten, twenty books with you at any given time in addition to magazines and newspapers too. BUT I couldn’t get on board with the feeling of it. And I could never put a finger on why. And today, Austin Kleon’s blog included an Mark Athitakis excerpt that just nailed it:

“[I read] almost always with a pen or pencil in my hand, ready to underline a sentence, scribble a margin note or, if I’m particularly struck by something, dash off a trio of exclamation points. I don’t think of this as something I do in addition to reading — it’s how I read. So something always feels a little off when I read a book on my Kindle or iPad… E-books promise all sorts of frictionless interactivity, except the one I really want.

Note taking is just one problem. Books aren’t just in conversation with readers but with themselves: What happens on page 362 harks back to something on page 15 that foreshadows events on page 144. Noticing these connections is part of my work, and it wasn’t until I began reading e-books that I realized how much bouncing back and forth I do in a physical book, something e-books don’t easily facilitate. Readers enthuse about being immersed in a good book, but e-book progress bars encourage us to read only one way: straight ahead, at a sprint.

Basically, in the wise words of Kathleen Kelly via Nora Ephron, “when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does…”

And the way you read that book as a child becomes a part of you. E-readers won’t ever become part of my identity because they’ll never have the same feel or smell or breed the same sentimentally that a good old fashioned book can.

Amiright? Or shall we agree to disagree?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “no other reading in your whole life does.

  1. erin

    I’m so glad you’re blogging again. Also I love my kindle for one reason and one reason only: travel. It’s just so dang much easier than lugging around all five game of thrones books.

  2. “all five games of thrones books”–brilliant. just great.

  3. I thought I was the only one left without an e-reader! Thank you for telling me it’s okay to be without one less electronic.

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