There is a Difference

Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver Public Library

I am convinced that we read more now than ever before.  But it’s different.

Paper is no longer the medium of choice.  News comes to my iPhone, my books are delivered via the ubiquitous cables to my Kindle and Kobo.  Even my beloved public library lends books over Internet channels. I listen to audiobooks on my iPod.   Social media venues keep me in touch with friends around the globe.  My word count for reading continues to escalate.

And yet….

I found myself identifying with a friend, who confided that her “reading time” was precious, that she chose books that resonated within her personal experience.

There is a difference between reading and skimming.   In our busyness of life, we simply must find time to read with thoughtful purpose.  Books are living, joyous companions.  There is a communication that occurs between two people – the writer and reader – who will, in all likelihood never meet.  With books, we are not limited to time, space or location. We converse with the past, just as easily as having coffee with a next door neighbour.

Saul Bellows once wrote, “People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.”

We have been warned…

30 Comments

  1. Aquileana

    “I am convinced that we read more now than ever before. But it’s different”. (R.B dixit).-
    I agree and I much appreciate you haven’t post on the battle paper book vs Kindle Book because I am truly tired of that nonsense debate! 🙂
    Love, Aquileana 😀

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    1. Clanmother

      I laughed aloud when I read your comments. I agree – reading in whatever format feeds the soul and challenges our value systems, which is a very good thing. And there are so many other debates that are more worthy of our time and intellect. We have remarkable technology that allows us to connect in ways, that up to a few years ago, were impossible. Many hugs coming your way. So glad that we connected. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. joannevalentinesimson

        Yes! And I’m now reading more on the kindle than in print. And more news and views online than in magazines. I just miss being able to underline and read my notes afterwards (which I rarely do, so it’s an illusion).
        Thanks!

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      2. Clanmother

        Oh, I enjoyed underlining as well. And then the highlighters came in all sorts of colours. It was almost magical. What I especially like about the Kindle is that I can increase the font size… 🙂 Thank you for stopping by – so very much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      You are far too kind! There are so many books that are lined up on my “to read” list. Just this past month, I have designated a chair for reading, and set a good sized lamp beside it. There is a place to set my cup of tea. I am trying to be like C.S. Lewis who once said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” By the way, your latest post “Read to Ride” was outstanding. A celebration of autumn colours! 🙂

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  2. Letizia

    You are so right (and as always, your ideas are so eloquently presented): we are confronted with the written word more than ever these days but reading with purpose, taking the time to read, is perhaps harder to come by. Something to be cherished for sure, a meditative moment in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      Oh, how well said, Letizia – “a meditative moment in the day.” I look for books that challenge my thought process and focus my attention. That being said, I need to make the time and allow myself those few hours of solitude to consider and reflect. As for my reading material, I have learned, the hard way, that some books are simply not the right ones for me to read at a particular time. They will be there when the right time comes along. Do you remember this quote from “Catcher in the Rye?” I was in the 11th Grade and supposed to be reading another book, but I abandoned it in favour of J.D. Salinger. The timing was perfect.

      “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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      1. Clanmother

        I think that you have to be in the right mood to fully appreciate the narrative. The book I was supposed to read was “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham. In the end I did read it, and found it to be profoundly moving, even at the age of 17. I must read that again just to see how the experience of living has given any further insight.

        “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”W. Somerset Maugham

        Liked by 1 person

  3. LaVagabonde

    I still prefer hard copy books, but if I have a “keeper” I buy the ebook, because I move around too much to carry it all along. I have noticed that, since I’ve drastically cut back my internet time, I no longer have the urge to skim and my attention span has grown back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      I think that you have identified the crux of the matter – our technology has given us a new delivery method to channel information to a wider range of readers. I’m not certain whether we recognize or fully understand the implications and influence of this new technology on how we interpret and integrate knowledge. I was just reading an article on this very subject – here is an excerpt:

      “To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.”
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/serious-reading-takes-a-hit-from-online-scanning-and-skimming-researchers-say/2014/04/06/088028d2-b5d2-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html

      One thing is certain – we are moving forward within a technological world. And it is different from what we have experienced before. Thank you for your visit – very much appreciated. 🙂

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  4. Gallivanta

    I am reading more; more of everything. It may be the technology; it may be that I have more time to read now. I enjoy different forms of reading. Sometimes I want to hold a book, and sometimes I am happy to hold a Kindle. Sometimes I want to read great poetry by famous poets, and, other times, I want to read books/stories by people who interest me . I am spoilt for choice. I enjoy the freedom I have to choose. Is it purposeful reading? In as much as it is what I want to do, it is purposeful. However, in the latest edition of The Persephone Biannually, Persephone talks about two studies (which are not cited) which show that we remember things less well if we read them electronically and that when we read on paper we become more deeply involved with the story. “It seems that the perceptible, direct, tactile experience of paper gives a mental map of the entire text. The brain has an easier task when one can touch as well as see: ” Does this apply to me? Am I remembering less well? Perhaps at the end of every e-book we need 20 questions, like we used to have on our comprehension reading cards at primary school. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      A very good point, Gallivanta! I ran across a couple of studies that indicate that paper has qualities and benefits over the an e-book Your have highlighted different types of reading styles in your comments. I think that we read in different ways, depending on the subject matter and format. Scientific and mathematical reading is entirely different from novels, something that became very clear to me when I read Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. I like your idea of the 20 questions. In fact, this is why I started this particular blog. I needed to debrief and to integrate the knowledge into my personal experience.

      I particularly like this quote from a Wired magazine article:

      Reading is human-technology interaction,” says literacy professor Anne Mangen of Norway’s University of Stavenger. “Perhaps the tactility and physical permanence of paper yields a different cognitive and emotional experience.” This is especially true, she says, for “reading that can’t be done in snippets, scanning here and there, but requires sustained attention.”
      http://www.wired.com/2014/05/reading-on-screen-versus-paper/

      Your comments are so very much appreciated – they add to my understanding…

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      1. Gallivanta

        An excellent article. Thank you. Quite possibly Persephone was referring to some of the studies mentioned in the Wired article. Interesting that we use those old words of Tablet and scroll in our digital reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother

        They are indeed! This is one of my 5 quotes that I have on sticky notes at my computer desk. I think it fits the subject matter… 🙂

        “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
        And next year’s words await another voice.”

        T.S. Eliot

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  5. cindy knoke

    Oh it is so good to read a post from you again! I have been soooo missing them. And this post is wonderful! I love that you recognize that tech saavy folks are reading more than ever, on whatever subject interests then, in the moment, and then discussng it in real time with friends online from all over the world. We have such immediate access to so much information. You want to read a book? It downloads in 30 seconds on your fire! We are all smarter for it.
    But, if so, how come the problems of the world are worse than ever?
    I don’t know.
    I think I’ll ask my online friends. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you so much, Cindy! We do have access to immediate information, in whatever format we prefer, simply with a click. Even more exciting is our ability to participate in the conversation, which I think helps to integrate the knowledge within our personal experience. As you said, “we are all smarter for it.” And that gives me hope, because as Maya Angelou says so well…

      “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

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  6. mmmarzipan

    Absolutely! There are blogs that I follow that I’ll admit I skim read (I follow them maybe for recipes, or photographic content). There are others (yours and Gallivanta’s, for example) that I always read word for word… and the other day I sat down with my morning tea to enjoy a long post written by another friend. Books will always be close to my heart, however. And to see my children so excited about story time gives me hope for the future 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clanmother

      Ah!! I do the same thing – make myself a pot of tea (this week a special Chai blend) before heading out to visit my blogger friends. I remember my first visit to a library as if it happened yesterday – the world changed for me that day. When a child is introduced to a book, they have been given the gift of possibilities. In August we were travelling by train from Oban to Glasgow, Scotland. Sitting in the seats behind us was a young woman reading the book, “The Highway Rat,” to her young son. By the end, people in the seats next to her were listening – it was pure magic.

      ‘Give me your buns and your biscuits! Give me your chocolate eclairs! For I am the Rat of the highway, and the Rat Thief never shares’!

      And there is a surprise ending….

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    1. Clanmother

      I agree wholeheartedly! In many ways, we are becoming disconnected from a larger discourse because we want it all; in so doing we settle for less. It is accepting that we will not read all of the books that we want, but embracing all that we can…

      Does that make sense? I’ll leave the last word to our dear friend, J.R.R. Tolkien:

      “Little by little, one travels far”

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