Still without internet. Probably won't be back online until Thursday arvo now. One upside, it's forced me to ponder my reading habits. I've been using the new waterproof Kobo for a review when it comes out, but I had a few thoughts about the nature of electronic reading I wanted to think out loud here.
Beeso and I have previously discussed the distracted nature of reading on an iPad. Or rather, my problems with distraction, which he doesn't share.
Back story. I made a decision to stop buying books from Amazon about a year ago. Specifically, to stop buying Kindle titles. I never really used the Beast of Bezos for hard copy titles. I did like the Kindle app, however, and thought the Paperwhite was a good ereader. But my issues with Amazon's business model grew to the point where I couldn't keep supporting them; a decision made easier when they broke their own system with the launch of their com.au site.
I've been using iBooks for about a year. It's not as cheap, and the overall selection is undeniably poor compared to all of the other online bookstores, not just Amazon. But for me, the range of choice in fiction is more than adequate, and the app is a lot more elegant than the Kindle's.
Still, I always had the same problem reading on an iPad. No, not screen glare. I don't read outside. Distraction. Whenever I was in iBooks, there was almost small, remnant part of my attention which was not focussed on the book I was reading. Instead it was flitting over the dozens of apps I knew to be a simple swipe away. Magazines and news sites I could be reading. Aggregators I might profitably trawl. Games I might play. Music to listen to.
A dedicated e-reader (or an old fashioned paperback) render this problem irrelevant of course, and at times I've banned the iPad from my bedside with that in mind. Having the net cut off for the last fortnight, and having the review to write of the Kobo Aura really forced the issue. And raised another one.
A couple of months, maybe even a year ago, I wrote a po-faced retort to Josephine Tovey's essay about her inability to finish any of the books she started reading. I suggested she needed MOAR SPLODEY and less thinky in her reading list. But I think there's more to it than that.
I think distraction is a problem even when the whole world isn't a finger swipe away. Having most of my entertainment options taken from me by those two lightning strikes has not just given me a lot more time to read, it has forced me to spend more time reading. The book I chose to test out the Kobo was Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. I picked that up on Murph's recommendation and when I'm finished I'll give it a review too. It's the sort of quality B-List pulp I find hugely enjoyable and usually consume like M&Ms, ie. in lots of short bites.
I've been reading it as I used to read, however, when I had time, in my teens and twenties. Not just a page or two every now and then, but a chapter or three in one sitting.
(Even that's not how I really used to binge read books. I was capable of plowing through hundreds of pages a day. A couple of titles a week. But I was a free man in those days).
Because I've been thinking about the reading experience – remember, Kobo review –
I've been pondering how I might have read this book differently on my iPad. I'd have squeezed in a page or two, here and there, usually late at night when my eyelids were already drooping, with the words skimming across the surface of my mind like dead leaves on a frozen pond, leaving very little trace the next day. Instead, I've been biting off thirty and forty page chunks to chew over in one sitting, often at lunch while I try the Kobo out in a variety of settings.
I honestly believe it's helped me appreciate and enjoy Correia's story more than I would have otherwise. Books are not blogs. They are composed in scenes, and chapters and longer, slower narrative arcs. Not just two hundred word brain farts. To really appreciate a story, we have to let the author tell it at his or her own pace, and if that means you need an hour to fight off the giant stone gargolyes attacking the secret insane asylum for survivors of previous monter attacks, then you need to invest an hour doing just that.
It makes me think I have to find some serious reading time a couple of days each week, and quarantine it from anything that might draw my attention away. And I don't mean the time I already spend reading for work either. That can be up to two hours a day, but it is work, not fun. Study, not relaxation. And unless I'm reading for work, it probably shouldn't be on the iPad anymore.