Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Readerly Shift, or E-Books Saved My Life

Ever since I was a wee lass, I've loved a good book. The heft of it in my hands, the swish of the pages, a pretty cover or a delightful turn of phrase. This love of books hasn't morphed too much in my lifetime. I delight in seeing them on my shelves, rearranging and reordering them, shuffling and placing them just so, and of course sucking up the content like a slurpy.

As a pre-teen, I was super into supernatural teeny bopper books--and this is before Twilight. Way way before. But my mom used to buy a stack of books for me over my Christmas break, give them to me early, and watch as I devoured them before the break was over.

Even as an adult in my early 20s, I could spend hours holed up in the Writing Center or some other boring job pouring gobs of classics into my head. Pure bliss!

As I've inched (and squarely landed) on toward 30, my attention span has shortened. I'm sad to say it. It doesn't make me feel terribly satisfied that I have the focus of a cocktail peanut, but it's true. As the squeeze of work and family increase, I have a harder time tackling chunky books. A big door stopper of a tome will send me reeling. I'm as likely as anything to lose interest and start something else...something slimmer.

Since I received Homer, my Nook, in January of 2010 I've noticed a shift in my reading. One of the biggest shifts in my reading life, perhaps. While I've always taken a dive into my shelves when it's time to pick new reading, now I take a dive into my e-book archives. I lay hands on the screen instead of the pages.

That's right folks, I think I prefer e-books to print.  And I'm saying (writing?) it out loud!

BEFORE YOU SHUN ME...check this out.

It's not that I don't enjoy printed books anymore. It's not that at all. But I have noticed some distinct trends since I had a baby:
  • Short attention
  • Limited time
  • A distinct sense of flightiness
  • Lack of sleep
All of those make for decreased reading. But what I find e-reading offers me is a quicker reading experience. I'm not even shitting you, people. I read faster on my Nook, and I'm not sacrificing any comprehension. In fact, it may even be up UP UP. I've decided the Nook makes me a faster reader for a few simple reasons:
  • I'm not flipping to and fro to see how many pages are in a chapter, or a section, or the rest of the book. It's a little number in the bottom of the screen, and all of a sudden it's abstract and I don't care as much about length.
  • I'm looking at smaller chunks of text and whipping through them like LIGHTNING
  • I'm not intimidated by even the largest book. I started War and Peace on my Nook, for God's sake. I'm like a horse with blinders on!
I know some of you are poo-pooing me in your heads right now. Go ahead! Certainly the Nook doesn't feel like a book in my hands, and it doesn't swish, but I don't think I mind. Ever since I had Greyson I've CRAVED reading like never before. With a stressful job and kiddos to look after, I've lost a great deal of focus (and sanity). I couldn't be more pleased with my family, but I do have to carve out time and the right mindset to read: in the mornings when the house is quiet, in bed before I conk out, at work on lunch break.

What e-books offer me right now is a more focused, uninterrupted, less distracted version of my old reading life, and I could not be more thankful for it. It may still take me two weeks to finish a book, but it's better than four weeks! And I'm tackling books that I wouldn't have tackled before.

Thank you, Homer! Thank you, e-books! You saved my reading life!

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