Over the years I’ve been a terrible reader; somehow it’s easier to focus on anything else but a book. It’s curious given the amount of time I spend reading barely useful material on the internet; you know the kind of articles you might find on tech, videogames and creative blogs. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good review on the latest gadget or a great article on the next design exploit, but it also feels like my knowledge is filled with tons of information I could realistically do without.
Recently I had a holiday or as I like to call it ‘I had 2 weeks in which I didn’t work’. I used to be a big fan of adventure holidays but lately I’ve started to regard a holiday as something which I can switch my brain off and relax with the people I care about. It must be the age.
The reason for this, I figured, it’s that I tend to get carried away with work a little too much most of the time (but I’m trying to fix that).
But I digress.
During my 2-week relaxing holiday all I did was...well, reading, and the best part was that I really enjoyed it. This might sound incredibly boring and obvious to the clever ones out there that are on it, but it was more of a revelation for me. In my youth ignorance, once or twice, I’ve even bragged about not being a reader. So, yes, I’m that bad.
I read two books, Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Crichton’s ‘Timeline’ and a few chapters of Claire North (AKA Catherine Webb) ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ which I’ve just finished this morning. I’ve also read an amazing manga called Berserk, which I had in my hands for the first time about 15 years ago (Ah! I’m old) and I had a chance to re-read from page one. Incredible read (37 issues in total, so far, for the ones who care). I re-discovered the pleasure of reading, the pleasure to appoint my brain to one task and one only: imagining things based on words. Magic.
Why this matter, you might ask?
Well, for years I had this voice at the back of my head remarking that I should be reading more and for the last few years I haven’t been a native speaker (I’m Italian), hence I knew how reading would help me take the language even further. Long story short, I wanted to read and I never really did it.
...and we are back to square one, because I’m crap at it. I can’t focus for more than 5 minutes and I get sleepy in no time in front of a good book. There is definitely a special feeling about physically holding a book but somehow I get easily distracted while doing it. The problem is definitely me, I needed a different approach to it.
I purchased the Kindle thinking I would give it a shot. I am all for gadgets, even the useless but pretty ones, in fact I own a number of them. After reading about it on various blogs-clearly not the kind of reading I should’ve done instead-I purchased one. Friends feedback was important as well as the thing they said that attracted me was the lack of distractions given the one and only one function the Kindle offers: reading a book.
There is one thing that got me straight away and it is a certain gamification aspect on reading a book on the Kindle. Knowing exactly the amount of time left on a chapter without me having to check physically (albeit get distracted) would push me on finishing that chapter. Being able to establish (not perfectly in any way) how much time is left on a book is somehow reassuring. Knowing that is not going to take weeks but hours to finish it makes the book more accessible to me. Ultimately the tools the Kindle offers to track how much of a book is left to read give me that little push I need to read more. Maybe it’s me being weird, but the Kindle made reading that bit more enjoyable. In fact I’m already 3 books down in one month, and that is way above my (pitiful) average.
Do I miss a paperback or hell even a hard cover? I do and I don’t; I gave up the pleasure of holding a book for the pleasure of ultimately reading it.