They read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall on an eReader but refuse to drink Château Lynch-Bages in a Syrofoam cup.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
I am reading a few books at the moment; I always have a number on the go at any one time. In my gym sessions I’m reading a collection of essays by the brilliant English art critic and journalist, Giles Auty. Reading in the two minutes between workout sets is a wonderful use of my time, a habit that I picked up from Vox Day. It’s particularly effective for books that challenge you a good deal. You spend two minutes reading a snippet, then you hit five reps of squats where your mind works over and absorbs what you have just read. I get a lot of ideas that way.
So the really hard stuff I leave for the gym. What’s interesting has been the effect on my fellow gym members. At the beginning people were a little dismissive in a humorous way, or at least what they took for humor. But to their supercilious questions I’d just hand them whatever book it was that I was reading and wait for a reaction. It’s a little hard to give a smart put-down when someone hands you The Art of Rhetoric.
But now a few other people are also reading between sets. Not any of the younger folk, alas, who prefer to stand there breathing heavily at the great exertion they have just performed while turning their body in the light so as to better catch in the mirror the shadows cast by their massive pecs™. No, it’s more the oldies who are getting into the spirit of things. Soon I hope to have most of the gym reading at any one time. That would be a hell of a sight for someone who was entering the place for the first time. A bunch of people standing around reading books.
One guy does read but he uses one of those eReader things. I’ve sold lots of ebooks but it doesn’t mean that I have to like them. The problem with ebooks is that you don’t know what you have. Much like having your music stored in your computer, you inevitably stop listening to most of your collection because you lack the ability to peruse and catch sudden inspiration.
One of the other books that I’m presently enjoying is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is surely one of the best titles for a novel of all time. It is the third time that I have read the book, and I picked it up again because it caught my eye while I was walking past my overburdened bookcases. I can never read a good book just once, much like I can never listen to an album the one time, or watch a good film for that matter. But a book can’t catch your eye on an eReader; you have to purposely go and find it.
And then there is the aesthetic of holding a book in your hands, turning the pages, marking where you left off, catching the high point with your finger so that it digs in a touch – a sort of balancing act with no balance. It is all of a oneness. And besides, I sit in front of a screen for a fair part of my day, thus I have no desire to extend that into other areas of my life.
The only advantage that an eReader has is the ability to quickly locate a book that has come to mind. This may be easily achievable in other people’s bookshelves but in mine it is somewhat of a challenge. But I have a big move coming up which will give me the opportunity to catalog my collection a tad more effectively. It is the only part of moving that I don’t loathe; getting to restock my bookshelves. Opening each box is like rediscovering old friends. I know that inevitably I will get immensely distracted while trying to sort through all the books. A task that ought to reasonably take an hour at the most will consume days, just for the fact that I will find myself continually reading.
I look forward to that moment immensely.