With my eyes, of course, you may reply! But if I were to narrow it down and ask what device you read it on, you would then be clearer on what I meant. Just 30 years ago – and for half of my adult life – that would have been relatively simple. I would almost certainly have read it on some kind of paper product. Now we have many more choices.
"You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.
I enjoy reading, and read very widely. In fact, a number of years ago I almost fell foul of a member of Glasgow Airport security staff who was less than amused at my interpretation of a "reasonable" amount of reading material for a transatlantic flight. He viewed my plastic bags stuffed full of newspapers and business magazines with a raised eyebrow, but relented with a quip about there also being films to watch.
I listened to a great podcast this week, and went down a rabbit hole of thinking how my reading has changed in response to the plethora of ways to read. The podcast was called ‘The Reading Mind’ - and yes, I note the irony of thinking more about reading while listening to a podcast. (Which is really just radio on demand perhaps? But that merits a blog of its own.)
The Reading Mind was an interview Ezra Klein, hosted with Maryanne Wolf, a researcher and scholar at U.C.L.A.’s School of Education and Information Studies. The title attracted me immediately, but the more I listened the more I realised this was podcasting at its best.
I listened while driving, and was able to stop and start the broadcast as needed but it really drew me into that sense of ‘listening in’ to a profound discussion on a contemporary topic affecting people across the globe. I won’t spoil it because if you enjoy reading this really is a must-listen. Here is the link. And for the real reading nerd, the link also contains a further link for the transcript!
This image is a screenshot from the Visual Thesaurus - an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings, and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning, helping you understand language in a powerful new way.
So back to my changing reading habits. Almost subconsciously, and over a period of years, I realised I was reading different things in different ways – and that divergence had really been accelerated by digital devices. I know most people have also adjusted their approach, but I wonder if we have changed in similar ways – or is it very different for each individual?
The big divide is obviously between digital and paper. I enjoy novels and like nothing better than a good book – paperback or - luxury a hardback. But for a variety of reasons I also use an e-reader. I used to read work related PDFs on it - but then realised I was spoiling my novel reading experience by linking that to a ‘work’ machine. So now the e-reader is kept for novels only.
"Smaller than a breadbox, bigger than a TV remote, the average book fits into the human hand with a seductive nestling, a kiss of texture, whether of cover cloth, glazed jacket, or flexible paperback."
And the reverse holds true. Both my laptop and iPad have e-reader functions – but I never use them for novels. They are dedicated to work, and business and….newspapers and magazines. So I clearly read newspapers and magazines in a different way from novels.
Of course a lot of skim-reading goes on with newspapers and magazines – and as I subscribe to a newspaper and magazine aggregator - the world of these is available to me. But my daily reading of the news and my favourite newspapers happens on my phone.
Now I understand how the ‘simple’ (which it isn’t of course) task of reading has become a lot more complex. And when I think of the number of board papers I am required to read every month, the need for skimming becomes essential. But even that is an art. And returning to the podcast it was good to hear that topic so well dealt with.
I think I now need to go and chill out. A good book beckons…
"Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity."
Lead (and read) well