On Going Back to Regular Books

April 3rd, 2016 • filed under Books

Last week, I bought my first regular, good old-fashioned book with the intent of reading it in longer than I can remember. It felt satisfying, but it make me think about how technology has progressed in my daily life (I’ll cover this more in a future post). In regards to reading material, I haven’t picked up a digital book or magazine in months. The last digital magazine I bought was over a year ago.

I bought The Talent Code, something I already owned in Kindle format. I read about 1/3 of the digital book, but stopped after a while. I’m not 100% sure why I did it, but if I reflected long enough, I think one of the biggest reasons for doing so was that because I was reading this book around bed time, the harshness of the light was making it difficult for me.

Obviously that’s no longer a thing, but even with the advancements in the iOS operating system, I’m still not reading any books on my iPad. I still visit Web sites. I still check my email. I still do all the things that were always digital to begin with. I didn’t hesitate to stop reading books and magazines digitally.

And here’s what I think is the reason. For me, reading is an experience. I make it an event. If I want to read a book or magazine, I make the conscious decision to do so. I grab a beverage, I sit down on a comfy chair or couch, or even lay in bed, and read. During that period of time, I don’t want any distractions. If I’m in the throes of a deep plot, I don’t want anything to tickle the back of my mind and make me want to check my email.

I don’t want to get too deep into the distractions of technology and social media, just yet, and will cover that in the very near future, but I will say the last couple of months has really allowed me to think about what I really want to get out of my various methods of communication.

Back to the book story.

Buying this actual book, made of actual paper, and occupying an actual unit of physical space on my actual bookshelf felt good. This in and of itself seems counterintuitive to how I obtain other entertainment media: out of every video game I bought in the last year, only one of them was on disc and that was only because it was cheaper than digital; out of every movie I’ve seen outside the theater, the vast majority I rented through my cable provider or Netflix; I don’t buy music anymore, I pay for Spotify.

It seems strange, but having an actual book to read really helps me get into the mindset of consuming the information therein. This extends to magazines, as well. I subscribe to four magazines: Time, Men’s Health, Fortune and Wine Spectator. Granted, I used about-to-expire airline miles to pay for them, but nonetheless, I give my mailman something to do every month.

The way I treat these magazines is the same way I treat a book. When I want to read it, I make it a thing. I sit down, I read it. I might read the whole thing in a day, or I break it up, but I don’t ever read when I’m distracted, or multitasking.

I have a slightly strange way about doing all this. It’s 2016 and I’m sitting here enjoying the fact that I can buy a book instead of get it on my iPad. Maybe we’ve hit the point where technology isn’t going to get much more useful than it already is when it comes to consuming information.