Monday, March 22, 2010
I love to read. Give me a great chair, with lots of padding, with some device that allows me to put my feet up, a good lamp and a quiet space. The phones off. Soft music helps, with no commercial interruptions (pandora.com isn’t what it once was in that respect – I guess they want me to buy a membership); but no lyrics, just relaxing instrumentals.
There is something of substance in the Mozart effect. Research, I’m told, indicates improved intellectual performance when Mozart plays quietly in the background. I use it often – both when I read and when I write.
A good book must hold my attention. Sad to say, too many so-called “Christian” books fall short on that score. Come to think of it, “how to” books are usually boring. Give me a fascinating biography or good fiction or history. I usually have pen in hand and make my comments in the margin. If the book gives me new perspective or fills in some of the gaps, I’m all over the linear process of a sustained literary journey. It is nourishing. Spiritually satisfying. Good writers are entertaining. They connect emotionally, from an outburst of laughter to a swelling of the throat.
Reading does that.
So I’ve been wondering – can I read a digital book? Will it be the same as holding the volume in my hand?
Several friends now carry a Kindle, Amazon’s popular digital reader. Surprisingly, all of the owners tell me the new fangled thing has actually enhanced their love of reading. It’s unanimous. Like everyone else, I read on my computer; but it’s not the same as reading a book. I read articles and blog entries and email and do my research. I compile data and prepare for writing on my laptop. But not books.
Until a couple of weeks ago.
Before I shell out the cash for a digital book reader, I wanted to know if I’d read it at all. So I went to Barnes and Noble where they have an eReader software for my MacBook. Then I bought a book.
The eReader emulates a digital device on your regular computer. I bought Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Within seconds, I downloaded the entire text. Ten bucks. No shipping.
Then, as a complete newbie, I spent a little time setting up the monitor just as I would like. These aging eyes do better with larger print. I chose a black background to give me a break from the glaring backlight. I tutored myself on highlighting the text and making notes. And off I went.
Game Change is a fast paced, back room, behind the scenes look at the 2008 race for the Presidency. A real page-turner. I read the whole thing on my notebook computer. It didn’t take long. All the joys of sustained reading kicked in. The pages flew by. When I stumbled across an unfamiliar word (e.g., fealty – a feudal tenant’s or vassal’s sworn loyalty to a lord), I clicked it and voilá – the dictionary popped up. If I wanted to go back and review a passage, a word search got me there. If I wanted to share a quote, cut and paste. If I’m sitting there in the waiting room, I can pick up where I left off on my iPhone. (There’s an app for that.)
I’m part of an early morning men’s group. We decided to read a Tim Keller book – The Prodigal God. I checked B and N, and there it was. Click and download. I’ve got it. No waiting for UPS.
So what will it be? The Kindle? The Nook? Or… the coveted iPad?
I gotta get me one of those.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp 2010