Sometimes I have to improvise in my reading. Over breakfast at home on weekdays, I always scan the New York Times online and when I see interesting headlines I click through to the article, which I later read on the train. This morning I got immersed in several articles on several subjects, including Game 3 of the Heat-Thunder series, President Obama's sudden reversal on immigration policy and the death of Rodney King, but especially one about the dubious (but - go figure - politically well-connected) Bo Robinson halfway house in Trenton, New Jersey. The Bo Robinson story was rather lengthy, and by the time I finished the train was already past Blue Island, giving me too little time to dive back into Crime and Punishment after a five-day hiatus.
Instead, for the last ten minutes of my ride, I pulled up George Ade's In Pastures New on my iPhone. I've been reading the book (a semi-fictional and very funny 1906 travelogue of Europe and Egypt) off and on for the past several months. That ten minutes was just enough time to get through a full chapter, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thus far the only use I've had for ebooks is just this sort of short-duration convenience reading - I always have my phone with me, but sometimes I either don't have a book on hand (like at lunch on Fridays, when I usually go out instead of brown-bagging at my desk) or don't have the time to read something at length. Last summer I read the second half of Great Expectations on Julie's Kindle, but didn't at all enjoy the experience - which was only partly due to Dickens' windy digressions, but mostly to the mechanics (screen glare, navigation buttons, etc.) of the Kindle.
So while I like being able to carry a small library around in my pocket, I've read very few of the books I've downloaded so far - just books like Ade's, or short story collections, that I can read in small doses whenever I have a few spare minutes. I really don't see myself ever devoting the bulk of my long-form reading to ebooks.
I think I'm the same way with audio books. Give me a collection of short stories and can come to as I care to rather than expect me to remain immersed in them over the long haul. I'll use printed books for that.
Posted by: Paul Lamb at Jun 18, 2012 7:40:54 PM