Thinking Out Loud

Off the top of my head on this Thursday…


My inner debate about eReading continues, especially after reading my friend Beth Kephart’s post. She quotes an article by Tim Parks, in which he asserts that “The e-book, by eliminating all variations in the appearance and weight of the material object we hold in our hand and by discouraging anything but our focus on where we are in the sequence of words (the page once read disappears, the page to come has yet to appear) would seem to bring us closer than the paper book to the essence of the literary experience.”

In her inimitable way, Beth describes the ways in which Mr. Parks assertion does not jibe with her experience of eReading, descriptions that have me nodding my head in complete agreement. Like Beth, without the physical presence of the book in my hand, I am more distracted than not. In fact, when I’m reading a digital book, I often feel such a sense of disassociation with the writer and her message that I’m  likely to put the book aside and go look for something else more satisfying to read (or do). I have some deep inner need to flip through the pages at random, to jot notes on the endpapers, to mark with tiny dog-eared corners those pages to which I must return.

All that being said, I have found a modicum of success reading on my (somewhat antiquated) Sony reader, which I use when I’m traveling.  Because it almost looks like a book in its pretty red leather cover and I can hold it just as I would a real book, my mind is lulled into some semblance of acceptance.

Yesterday, I stumbled across Dani Shapiro’s lovely blog, called Moments of Being. Browsing through some of her recent posts, I stumbled across one called “On the Private Heart,” in which she shares her thoughts about the writer’s “secretive contemplative self, the place where insights occur.” This is the Private Heart that is so rarely shared with the outside world, the Private Heart which can be accessed only in the “silence where the voice emerges. It is only in the movement of the hand across page, one word following the next, in the crafting of sentences that we know ourselves.”  I loved this image, and I know it to be a true one, even in my own limited experience of writing, know how occasionally when everything is working just right you find yourself writing a sentence that makes you stop breathing for a second, makes you suddenly realize something you’d never known you could articulate, something that has been hidden in the deepest part of you for longer than you ever imagined.

This morning, a cold and rainy day, I took my coffee and crawled back in bed with Louise Penney’s latest, A Trick of the Light. I do love the way this lady creates atmopshere in her mystery novels, love the little village of Three Pines where she places her wonderfully complex cast of characters. I want to crawl inside these books the way I burrowed under my blankets this morning.

Even though there is always murder involved, with Inspector Gamache on duty, I feel as if I would be safe.

Speaking of safe, we had a bit of a scare the other night when we got home from traveling. My husband thought he had left his credit card behind at the airport in Dallas. I was frantic for a few moments – so many things are tied to that credit card, and I despise having to change everything when you get a new account number. Luckily, he found it in his jacket pocket, so that disaster was averted. But I was reminded how important it is to keep those things safe. Identity theft happens so often, and once your identity has been stolen, it can take years to rectify the damage. I’ve been doing a bit of research on identity theft protection and discovered a service provider called IdentityHawk that has a good product to help keep your identity safe. Sort of like having my own personal Inspector Gamache guarding my financial identity.

I like that idea.

Now tell me, what are you thinking about this Thursday morning?


10 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud

  1. I, too, have a fairly difficult time with e-readers. I associate reading on a screen with being in a hurry. Always something else to look at. But with a book (or even a magazine), I can dive in and set aside all electronics. This is important to me.

    Sadly, I think it’s a generational thing. My daughter, 9, loves her Kindle. And she loves her paperbacks. There’s no difference in her mind. This is where the market is going, I think.

    Good for the trees, I suppose.

    • I tend to think it’s a generational thing too, but one of my friends disproves that assumption. She’s 76, and has been reading exclusively on an e-reader for three years. She started out with the same model Sony I have (in fact, she convinced me to get one) but has now switched to the iPad.

      I’m glad your daughter still enjoys reading paper books as well as digital one. And I’m even happier that she enjoys reading in general!

  2. I’m not one for marking up books (the librarian in me) but a lot of ereaders do allow you to highlight and make notes, I think. I know it doesn’t feel the same, though. I hope publishers will be able to continue to publish in both electronic and paper formats, and that it doesn’t have to become one or the other. I don’t see how hardcover books can survive another decade, except as expensive, small print-run items for collectors, maybe?

  3. I’m sure it’s probably wrong of me, but I get a little leap of the heart whenever I hear that an ebook reader doesn’t experience the revelation that all the techies promised. I still love my paper books, and know that I could never own an ereader – although I do think they are great for people who travel a lot. My son, a computer freak if ever there was one, has no interest in ereaders, either. If I want a book, I’ll read a book, he says. He’s keen on graphic novels, and no one to my knowledge has had to audacity to suggest they’d be better on the small screen yet….

    • My son loved graphic novels when he was a teenager. They probably do look pretty nice on an iPad 🙂

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who still loves paper books! Sometimes I feel like quite the dinosaur!

  4. I enjoyed Beth’s post too. While I don’t have an e-reader, I take issue with Park’s argument. I think ebooks invite distraction. I love what you say here. Love, love, love. “when everything is working just right you find yourself writing a sentence that makes you stop breathing for a second, makes you suddenly realize something you’d never known you could articulate, something that has been hidden in the deepest part of you for longer than you ever imagined.”

  5. Thanks for the link to the new blogger, I will go look at it as I am a writer and I love reading about the writing experience too.

    I don’t have an e-book reader, and though I’ve thought about it, I have only seen others using them on the bus. I like books, I like the experience of holding them, and i disagree with the author of the article. I think that for me, when I read a physical book, it helps to put the words – the story – in my mind because I have something physical to relate it too. The book in my hands, which becomes my extension my life and the world at that time. My sensory input has alot to do with what i remember about what I read. It appears to me that the e-books don’t have sensory input to them, no colour, no cover, no smell of the pages or feel of the pages, all of which go into the experience of the books while I’m reading it. I hope this makes sense, it’s something I’ve been wondering about as I am not keen on getting one,but haven’t been able to put it into words until now. I’m glad to find you and some others in the blog world do feel like I do!

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