July 30, 2010

Rabid Reading

What I’m Reading Today:  A little bit of Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I really like the first pages.

My lovely mother-in-law Jean is visiting for a few days, and one of the things that is so great about her is that she reconnects me with reading in a way I sometimes forget in the day-to-day toil of things. I mean, I know I’m passionate about reading, but to see someone else from the outside who is just as rabid restores my faith in human nature.

I’d say three-quarters of our conversations are about books. She belongs to two or three (or four?) book clubs and she reads all the time and she travels with at least three or four books and a book or two on tape. You know how writers struggle to tell you what their book is about? Well, Jean is that person who can tell you the plot, characters, and bigger themes of any book just off the cuff sitting across the kitchen table. She’ll tell you her favorite quotes and the reactions of others in her book club. Who liked it and why. Who didn’t. It’s fascinating and makes for great conversation. And it makes me want to read every book she ever talks about, not that I need the encouragement.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom everywhere about the end of reading as we know it. The Kindle, the Nook, the iPad. The percentages of readers and of those reading long forms like books are dropping. People’s attention spans are shorter than ever. Blah, blah, blah.

But when I see the intense look on Jean’s face when she talks about books, all the negative nabobs melt away. This is why we read. This is why we write. Because it moves people and connects them and makes them feel and takes them out of their daily lives. When you read, you are a kid again, all a-wonder at the world.

Questions of the Day: Are you hopeful about the future of books? What say you?


Pembroke Sinclair said...

I think that reading "machines" such as the Kindle and iPad will alter how stories are presented, but I think there will always be books. Waaay back in the day, when I was an undergradute in college, I did a presentation on books on the internet. Back then (about 10 years ago now) people were afraid physical books were going to disappear because they were so accesible on the computer, but they're still here. I think we're going to be just fine!

Tamara said...

Good points all!

How do you think machines will change the way stories are presented? Do you think it will change the way we read?

I'm so glad you think we'll be fine! In certain moods, it's easy to give in to the temptation of the doomsdayers.