Reading has been one of the most important activities I have engaged in since before I could decipher words. As a writer my reading has underpinned my entire career and knowledge of how books can be created. But this week I had quite a wake up call.
I was sitting one evening last week reading a book. A physical book. A paperback. With paper pages.
Right - good we've established that.
When I got to the end of the page ( somewhere in the middle of the book) I - well - I swiped across the physical paper. I did - I actually swiped!
Astonished I looked up at and caught the eye of the better half. "You won't believe what I just did," I said and told him.
He shrugged and with a slight grin said,,"What? For the first time?"
So its finally happened. The total transfer of my decades old brain from the physical to the virtual. After reading books - physical with paper pages - since before I could actually decipher words - my brain has been taken over by widgets/pixels/elves/ Martians/whatever and it now expects me to swipe instead of thoughtfully or swiftly, wearily or feverishly, take that holy paper between my fingers and turn the page.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this but it made me stop and think, How do I read my books in 2015. How do any of us?
The grandbaby is nearly one now and is learning books - the reading direction, the expectation of the page turn, how to flip a flap, the gentle lilt of story as it is read, exclaimed over, pictures pointed to, buttons pressed to make the truck or the fire engine sound. This is how I started - the physical book, the picture, the paper page. I have no idea what I would do if I couldn't read my books.
But the truth in 2015 is that no matter how much I revere the physical book, this is no longer the sole way in which I enjoy books. And for the grandbaby it certainly won't be.
I have a kindle.
I have a Kindle app on my smartphone and my tablet. I am constantly downloading and swiping screens. I read books on my phone on the tube. I never need be without my copy of War and Peace again in my entire lifetime because it is neatly settled on the app on my phone - which goes everywhere with me naturally - and it takes up no space at all - literally and virtually - in my handbag.
So this is how I read books :-
- I cruise through bookshops, picking up, flicking through, staring, daydreaming and considering books.
- I wander libraries looking through the biography and history sections in particular.
- I fill my house with books and have them in favoured piles which I can dip in and out of.
- I read entire physical books. I usually have an upstairs book and a downstairs book. But I might also be reading a book on my Kindle.
- I find it hard to pass a charity shop with their variously stocked shelves
- I download books onto my kindle/smartphone/tablet and read a flat screen and lose myself but it is different. There is not the physical engagement with the artefact.
- I read with the grandbaby.
- I read aloud to myself/the better half/ audiences.
- I listen to books being read on the radio.
- I listen/watch any programmes about books which cross my path.
- I have developed a new passion for hardbacks. It's been life long of course but its just on an upsurge at the moment. I sit there stroking the book as I read it, its beautiful cover, wonderful end pages, neatly ironed ribbon bookmark, often in red, and the wonderful quality of the paper. You can't do that with your Kindle.
|Picked this little bird book up in a second hand bookshop. Irresistible. Has commentaries by Enid Blyton!|
I hope I don't continue to swipe the pages of my physical books. I felt such a numpty.
I plan to go on reading and engaging with books for the rest of my life.
I hope my plan works out.
And then there is the writing of books - but you've probably had enough by now.
How do your read books?