Have you read a book in print lately? I haven’t.
How about an e-book? I haven’t either (other than how-to books like my own E-book reading jumps as print declines, reports that a quarter of Americans in this age category own a Kindle or other tablet device, and 23% have read an e-book in the past year. Who are these readers? Mostly they “had a college degree, lived in a household earning more than $75,000 and ranged in age from 30 to 49.”
The Kindle has provided a solution for people like my uncle, who has multiple bookshelves throughout his large home, all packed to the brim. I often used to wonder how in the world he would find room for additions. Avid readers like him are responsible for the fact that publishers are thriving in the new e-book economy (See NPR’s story, E-Books Destroying Traditional Pulbishing? The Story’s Not That Simple). These folks purchase and download e-books with abandon, often for less than the cost of print editions. Many seem to be making peace with the loss of the tactile experience of reading a paper book.
I am still a hold-out on purchasing a tablet or Kindle. I’m not sure I would use it—not because I am attached to reading tangible books, but because I almost always read only while doing something else. As a child, I read while walking (yes it was probably dangerous). When living in New York City, I read on the buses and subways. Now I read on airplanes and while waiting in lines.
For some reason, I have a hard time just sitting and reading in my apartment or a café. Magazines pile up on my dining room table unread. I can probably count on one hand the number of books I have read since moving to Madison. Up until a few months ago, I frequently wondered whether I had simply lost my fondness for the sport.
Then, like manna from heaven, I discovered audiobooks. The library has just about every book I could imagine, either on CD or in digital audiobook format (just plug in earphones and listen!) Since beginning to “read” again, blissfully multitasking by driving, cooking or cleaning, I have whipped through Beautiful Boy (a father’s story of his son’s meth addiction), The Truth about Hillary [Clinton], Of Mice and Men, Their Eyes Were Watching God [classic African American fiction by Zora Neale Hurston], Naked [David Sedaris], and Marley & Me [tearjerker about the world’s “worst” dog]. I am currently listening to The Tipping Point [Malcolm Gladwell] and Three Cups of Tea [compelling even if some of it is not completely true]. On deck: Animal Farm and Hope’s Boy.
Perhaps someday my brain and body will be content to sit and read, but that day has not come yet. I am just glad to have rekindled (no pun intended) my love for stories and for absorbing knowledge. It seems this bookworm’s hunger is still insatiable.