Reading, Between the Lines

Reading is a particular kind of nourishment for me. Whether it’s research (information and study), relaxation (fiction and literary works) or relational (communing with my God), I read hungrily, interactively, establishing an intellectual (and often heartfelt) connection with the specific work and its author.

Image by Fio from Pixabay

However, I’m a reluctant latecomer when it comes to enjoying books presented in digital format. In fact, one of the most difficult transitions for me has been the gradual acceptance and subsequent adoption of digital books over actual paper-and-ink volumes. Since buying my first Apple iPad (maybe ten years ago?) and an Amazon Kindle (a short while after), I used the hand-held devices almost daily for email, browsing the internet, etc. … but rarely ever as a reading device! Both devices seemed cold and detached, objects which might be considered helpful but still completely devoid of personal connection.

Over a lifetime of reading, I’ve underlined and commented in book margins, recording my reactions and opinions of a particular text. This has been a consistently helpful practice for me. Books long ago shelved may be easily pulled from the shelf for quick reference. I’m able to quickly reacquaint myself, using the personal notes held therein to refresh my memory about the book’s content (and my interaction with it).

As an example, here’s a random image (at right) from a book I read more than 40 years ago. The handwritten notations provide an excellent reference point of what I thought about the book. I can re-read the book, if I choose, but I can also glean the general gist just from what I’ve underlined and noted. Not every page has this many notations, but there’s usually enough to recall the book’s content.

I’m still reserving judgment when it comes to digital books. Over the last couple years, I’ve read quite a few. In general, fiction settles more easily for me on an e-reader. Digesting non-fiction comes harder, with difficulty. My primary complaint lies with adjusting to a format of annoying pop-ups when (or if) I attempt to interact with the printed word. I hate pop-ups! Depending on the user interface, notations are awkward and not readily visible on the page. The sonnet below expresses some of my frustration with the medium.

Page Turner, a sonnet

There are certain books which I must own in actual hard copy format. I’m willing to admit this is probably an irrational expectation, but my brain is stubborn, hungry for the sweet companionship of books.

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