Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reading and the Rich Experience

"When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night- there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book." ~novelist Christopher Morley

I have always loved to read. Some of my earliest memories are of the library in Arkansas where I learned to read: the chalky-white walls, the blue felt-like carpet, and the endless cases of books—the taller ones, of course, had the magical adult books. But I remember loving two things about that library—the books, and the name placards that children could earn by reading lots of books. Yes, I earned lots of placards, but mostly I learned to love to read for the experience of reading a book—to open the cover of a new book was to open the portal to a new world. I still love reading books, and discovering new worlds, experiencing the world through a new character and learning as I read.

About six months ago, when we moved to Prague, our easy access to new books evaporated in an instant. But, this week, I scored a huge triumph. I configured my first international book order, effectively breaking down the barrier to getting new books. I’m elated!

Seth Godin recently said this about e-books versus paper-and-ink books: “Sometimes the goal is to make change happen. A book is a physical souvenir, a concrete instantiation of your ideas in a physical object, something that gives your ideas substance and allows them to travel ... unlike just about any form of electronic media, you get to read the book at your own pace, absorbing it as you go.”

I agree. To me, spending time reading at leisure words permanently printed onto paper is an enriching experience to be savored. The transience of blinking cursors isn’t the same, disappearing so quickly in our e-world that it hardly bears existence at all. But a physical book is a piece of timelessness in page form, with an experience lingering in my mind like the vibrant colors of a stunning sunset, forever changed and moved by the subtleties of savoring.

So, though I blog into the transient e-web-world and spend countless hours putting letters in the space of the blinking cursor writing novels, and even though I read my news, and emails, and blogs, and school updates electronically, I still am not ready to settle down and pleasure read a great novel from a screen. I look forward to every novel I read—especially the ones coming in a few weeks, via international mail. Whichever way we choose to read, whether on an e-page or a paper page, here's to to reading and the richness of the reading experience.

Starting the conversation (click to leave a comment, below): What are your reading habits? Have they changed in the digital age—iPad, Kindle, e-Reader? And, do you recommend any great books you’ve read lately?

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