I like to read. I read all the time, really. Of course a lot of people don’t consider surfing the net reading, but of course it is. By that measure, I’m probably reading more now than at any time in my life. That’s quite an accomplishment considering I used to read while I walked home from school, book held in front of me while I shuffled carefully down the road trying not to trip on rocks or cactus.
But books. They’re failing me lately. The physical medium by which they are distributed to meat, it just doesn’t work the way it used to.
Today, I wanted to read while eating my dinner. I pulled my little box of flash-frozen hot food next to me as I sat cross-legged on the floor, and tried to read and eat.
I used to do this all the time, my hand spread out like a giant book support, carefully sliding the pages across with little finger and thumb like a magic trick, shuffling my fingers while I read so they didn’t block words or even just guessing at the words. All. The. Time.
And tonight it was annoying. Very annoying. I finally put the book down, and opened a magazine. At lease it would lie flat, I wouldn’t have to struggle to keep the pages open, browse the pictures.
And while I meandered through pages, I felt a pang of annoyance. That’s a nice car. I’d like to know more about that. I wonder if there are any like it for sale in my area.
I couldn’t open another page and find out what I wanted. I’d have to get up and get my phone and look it up. Not worth the effort.
And I’ve suddenly realized, books are annoying me. It’s a mechanism and a culture I’m not part of. Reading on my iPhone or iPad is so much easier, and the ability to look up more data while I’m reading is seductive.
I wonder if any ancient librarian had this epiphany as he got used to working with books after dealing with those really annoying scrolls. After all, books were relatively portable, they could rest on your lap while you read. And you didn’t have to hold them up to read them, they just sat there and displayed information.
Books have been replaced in my life.