reading habits

E-books Making It Harder to Meet (and Judge) People?

I just read an interesting piece in the online magazine Slate in which the author is lamenting the rise of e-books for a very specific reason: he thinks it will make it harder to meet people and form impressions of them or get to know them because we can’t see what they’re reading. Check out the article. The author, Mark Oppenheimer, notes that he enjoys looking around on the subway to see what books people are reading, and that he has learned more about people he was dating by observing the books on their shelves. If everyone on the train is carrying a Kindle or a Nook, and books on apartment shelves vanish in favor of an iPad on the coffee table, he fears, we’ll lose out on one of the best conversation-starters around. What do you think? Is this an unforeseen drawback to the e-book revolution? Or is Oppenheimer worrying too much?

Is reading on the Web really reading?

Here I go again on the subject of the Internet and our changing reading habits. I just finished reading a New York Times article (yes, I read it online) (also, be warned, it’s LONG for a web article) focusing on children and teenagers and whether the reading they do on the Internet is as valuable for their intellectual development as reading books. It reports that the number of teens who read books for pleasure is down, according to surveys — but does that matter, if they are still reading for pleasure but now primarily from online sources? The article discusses both sides of the issue and doesn’t draw any conclusions one way or the other, but it’s interesting food for thought. Do you think kids get the same value from reading blogs, online fan fiction, and so on, as they do from reading novels or nonfiction books?

It’s Not You, It’s Your Books

This NY Times Sunday Book Review essay was written several months ago-a good friend sent it to me at the time, and pointed out the tragic humor of the Isabel Archer/Gilbert Osmond example.  I found the essay to be a very humorous and interesting one, and I shared it with family members.  They however were not as pleased!  They thought it demonstrated caring far too much about insignificant details.  I recently met someone and the essay topic came up again, as he knows the essayist and had gotten into a disagreement with her about it when the essay came out.  It’s an essay that seems to be polarizing, and so I’m interested to hear what others-bookish or not-have to say! I must say, that I also cringe when I hear people claim to love Ayn Rand (often celebrity actors and Alan Greenspan).  But I did think it was a bit funny for this essay to call out Rand enthusiasts-as the Times had not that long before published an article on the success of Rand devotees in the financial world. 

Changing Reading Habits?

I just read an interesting piece from the latest Atlantic Monthly, entitled Is Google Making Us Stupid? The author, Nicholas Carr, observes that he and colleagues have all noticed a change in their reading habits — an inability to concentrate or focus when reading texts longer than a page or two. I’ve noticed this myself — I’ve become far more distractible when reading, especially when reading online, where I may link from article to article without ever finishing one. Or I may skip one entirely, dismissing it as “too long,” if it involves more than one full scrolling of the screen. When and how did this happen? Since when is a two-page article “too long”? It bothers me that I find it so difficult to sit down and pay attention to a book for any length of time these days (unless it’s a really compelling book, and I do still find some of those around, luckily) — I’m a librarian, after all! 🙂 Have others noticed this phenomenon? Does it bother you, and if so, have you found ways to overcome it? (And if it doesn’t bother you, why not?)