Rediscovering the Joy of Reading

My love of reading comes in phases.

Like most knowledge workers, a big chunk of it in the day comes in the form of email and wikis and tweets and looking for things online; at night, I get to go through the various articles and longreads I’ve saved up throughout the day. The internet is a wildly efficient vehicle for delivering the written contextualization of everyday life.

But the reading I’m referring to is the humble book. As one of the oldest forms of media, it now has to compete with everything else that wants our attention, from effortless social media updates to short bursts of text like this post to more sensory stimulation in pictures and video and games.

And it’s those other types of media that have the huge marketing budgets and plethora of industries keeping customers excited for its next releases. eReaders only do eBooks, but tablets have so many more options for consumption that it becomes a desperate exercise to eek out some advantage for the electronic replacement of the physical, earthy book. Whereas movies and TV shows and games (and even music) have massive lines on release day, the only book I can think of with that kind of fervor were the latter Harry Potter books.

Upon reflection, the times when I gave up on books came about as a result of slogging through an uninteresting tome along with the lack of hype and awareness for better volumes elsewhere. The time to go through a book – at least hours if not days – makes starting one a heavier commitment than most of the alternatives above. That said, there are plenty of mechanisms for discovery, everything from Bestseller lists to peer recommendations on Goodreads to grabbing everything from my favorite authors.

One thing I’d like to do, though, is spend a little bit of time to think about the books that I do read. They present the counterpoint to wit’s brevity; the journey through a few hundred pages should present many complex, deep thoughts and opinions and stories. My experiment is then to see whether it’s worth the time to dwell and expound upon the messages delivered.

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