Actual reading of books

For my holiday reading I brought home The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n. Although I haven’t touched the second, this week I have been reading The Book Thief, and really enjoying it. Tyring to explain it to my curious son, I said that this book is set in Nazi Germany, is narrated by Death, and is about a fairly ordinary little girl who is fostered out to a poor family and who steals books from time to time, and that despite all these points, it is not depressing.

Reading this book has reminded me of how satisfying it is to be absorbed by a tale, to live inside the words. So much of my reading now is snatches of info on computer screens, or flicking through the newspaper, or a chapter of a novel at (the children’s) bedtime. This reminds me that there was an article I read last year about how the internet is changing our reading habits. When I googled it (as you do) I discovered a Wikipeida article that turned out to be even more interesting than my recollection of the original article. Apparently the article sparked a furious debate across the blogosphere and intellectual fora, wherein journalists, writers, critics, educators and neuroscientists posited theories and some evidence (mostly anecdotal, due to the newness of the alleged phenomenon) on whether or not spending more time online in a hypertextual reading environment rewires our reading circuits so that sitting down to concentrate on a single piece of prose becomes harder and harder to do. I’m not quite ready to put forth my own opinion yet; I think that perhaps we haven’t quite identified all of the factors, because changes in the way that we timetable our lives, for instance, have an impact on how much uninterrupted time we have to devote to sustained reading, which is a social and cultural influence rather than exclusively technological.

hmm. I’ll have to think about this one. Once I’ve read my emails.

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