what's with books?

December 11th, 2005

I noticed that I don't read a lot of books anymore. Which is misleading, because I never read a lot of books, in fact my record of books read outside of school in a year is probably about 10. But books have somehow been degraded in my hierarchy. There are many reasons why they are less nice on a practical level, I won't bother with that now.

But despite reading few books, I do read quite a lot I would say. And I read on screen. I'm not talking about papers, forums and emails (I don't really think of that as reading in the traditional sense), but rather magazine articles, blogs, news articles, technical discussions, some ideological writing (about open source :blahblah: ) if I'm in the mood and so on. What I notice the most is that I prefer reading off the screen because I do more than just reading. Since Windows 3.1 gave us the powerful feature of multitasking (and Unix did too at some point, I was a Windows user back then), I'm married to the idea of doing more than one thing at a time. When I read a book, I'm "stuck" with that book, "for better or for worse". If it gets dull, I may put it down but I'm not going to pick it right up again. If I read a web page, a pdf or whatever, I can read a paragraph, check my email, read some more, open a website, keep reading, write a quick email response etc. I can even keep up a slow paced IM conversation while reading (which I do on occasion). There is more "freedom" to multitask, which I appreciate. I have the facility to divide the text into comfortable chunks of varying size, while I keep doing something else at the same time (which technically is wrong because the action isn't simultaneous but let it go already).

So to me now books are degraded to something I think about when I'm not at a desk. Travelling somewhere, on holiday, reading in bed etc. And for that they are good, but I never got so attached to the glued paper sheets that I miss not handling more paper.

:: random entries in this category ::

2 Responses to "what's with books?"

  1. erik says:

    I'll join you in that; reading has become a rarity in my life and I've read *a lot* of books just for fun when I was younger. I'd go through, perhaps, a book per week in my good years :D

  2. John/mikhail says:

    I'm reading less these days (though still probably matching that record rate of yours!), but unlike you, I miss having the time to read more books.

    What you're describing as a blessing, I see as a pain - I can't focus on what I'm reading when it's on a computer screen. So much so, in fact, that I still print out papers I'm reading. :D