Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Still Loving Books In The Digital Age

My hallway being taken over by books.
I've always loved books. But I have to admit, now that there are now so many television series that tell season-long stories, it sometimes cuts into my reading time. (Recent favorites: Agents of Shield and Jessica Jones.) I enjoy watching a good series almost as much as I do reading books.

Why only almost? It has to do both with loving to read words on a page (or an ereader) and with how loud the world seems to have become.

A cheap vacation


Reading a good story, watching a TV series, or sitting in the dark in a theater to see a movie or play all can pull me into a different world for hours. But books add a layer by, ironically, doing less. Reading requires engaging my own imagination in a way that a movie or series doesn't. I picture how the characters look, hear the sounds, and smell the scents the author describes. Because I'm so absorbed in imagining, it feels like I'm getting a cheap mini-vacation from life.

Focus


Reading a book also demands complete attention. I can and do listen to audiobooks and podcasts while doing other things. I really like that. Good audio can make you look forward to routine tasks like sorting laundry. But it also means that we're all dividing our attention more and more. In contrast, when I read a good book, I focus on it. For the first five minutes, especially with a new book, that can be a challenge. But after that, everything else leaves my mind. I truly relax. I notice I sleep much better if I read 45 minutes to an hour before I go to bed. It seems to clear out the day's concerns, almost like a long meditation.

Quiet


So many things compete for our attention these days and they're all loud. TV commercials, video clips (and more commercials) on the Internet, and cars honking is if that will make traffic jams magically disappear. Books, whether on paper or on my Kindle, don't yell. They don't shriek. They don't even whisper. They are silent. And I love that.

What about you? What do you love about reading?

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