In spite of my young atheism and my naïve devotion to scientific optimism, profoundly religious works of literature shaped my spirit. The first novels I read, in the summer between second and third grade, were The Chronicles of Narnia.
I love the Groucho Marx quote, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” because I think it’s hilarious and it combines two of my favorite things, dogs and books. But I’ve had a nagging question about books for years; is it OK to give up on a book? And if so, at what point is it OK to give up on a book? This question of whether and when to give up on a book might seem trivial but for me it has both philosophical and practical implications.
So, what about writing ourselves? Every day, our thoughts, words and actions conspire to create the way that others perceive us and influence the ways in which they understand us. We create “texts” through which we ask others to interpret us, and we hope that we do it well. We’ve all been misunderstood, and often can’t quite grasp why.
On the most basic level, movies simply ask for a type of attentiveness that is hard to muster if you’re depressed. Cerebral films tend to have a lot of silences and moments where the spectator is encouraged to reflect on the images. That’s fine, but when you’re depressed, the only reflecting you’ll be doing is on various sad thoughts and anxieties floating around in your head.
There’s so much to read in the world–and, if you commute, so much time to get that reading done. But why not succumb to exhaustion and paralysis? Books aren’t merely made to be read–they give your bag a nice shape and structure when carried, unopened, for months!
Book clubs—the phrase alone conjures up the taste of white wine and melty cheese cubes and a vision of copies of The Deep End of the Ocean, only the first halves even slightly perused. We can thank Oprah for this template, despite her best intentions, but it’s also kind of a primal urge to get together and drink, and a slightly-less primal urge to conceal this liquoring-up behind the veneer of literature.
The Kindle is the superior reading device because apart from the “Experimental” section, which allows you to listen to mp3s and browse the Web, all you can do is read. Who would want to browse the Web on a Kindle? It’s a horrible experience, like playing an educational computer game in a school library in 1991.
A girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder.
Henry James is an author that many people love to hate. The scars of reading James too early or too quickly––or reading the wrong Henry James altogether––can take a lifetime to heal, which is a shame, because his stories are some of the most memorable in fiction.
Surely readers of e-books are not scanning, as so many of us are wont to do online. But there have to be some differences between the electronic and the printed reading experience. The usability guru Jakob Nielsen conducted a study to find out.