Like with ‘If on a Winter’s Night’, I’ll always come crawling back to this little blog. Eventually.
If you’re a big reader, like me, then you’ll know this feeling. You pick up the book, only to put it down unfinished after a few chapters. You pick it up again a while later, determined to finish this time…only to put it down yet again. A third time, this time you’ll do it. Then you remember why you put it down twice before.
That book for me is Italo Calvino’s ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. I like metafiction. I like the concept, and the plot. Much of the book has me reading along happily, but I am still finding it a challenge to get through. It could be me, it could be Calvino – or maybe it’s a bit of both.
Personally, I don’t have much time for reading; I try to do it on my lunch breaks, but I am exhausted lately so that doesn’t happen as frequently as I’d like. As for Calvino, he’s a man of many words. Many, many, many words. He could be describing putting his socks on and make it last 6 pages. His prose is good, don’t get me wrong, but the superfluous rambling narrative voice isn’t the most engaging while you’re just trying to eat your sandwich and have some time away from screens.
This book is a big challenge. I have an English degree and review books on here for fun (admittedly very erratically!) and it’s a challenge, but I will finish it. I am coming for you and your needlessly long prose, Calvino! Look out for the review – even if it takes 6000 years.
I feel like this post is an inevitable one for all book bloggers. The physical book vs eReader vs audiobook debate is one that’s been long raging and surprisingly devisive amongst many readers. I know people who refuse to use eReaders, I know people who have abandoned physical books. All mediums have their benefits, and all mediums have their issues. Is there really a ‘best’ way to read?
I don’t think there’s a single reader out there who doesn’t want to bottle the scent of real physical books. Old books, new books, they all have this incredible smell that can’t be beaten. Paper books feel good to read – it feels like you own the book in a way that you can’t get with a Kindle, and I find it much easier to tell my progress; percentages mean nothing to me when I can easily see how much of the book I’ve read and how far I’ve got to go with a physical copy. This was never much of an issue when I solely read for pleasure, but it was definitely important during my degree and now that I have Review Wednesdays to think about!
I love physical books and there is definitely something about flicking through the softened pages of a well loved favourite that other formats simply can’t simulate. Despite this, they take up a lot of space and often cost considerably more than electronic books and audiobooks.
eReaders/Reading on Electronic Devices
If you’ve seen my Instagram lately you’ll have seen that while I’ve posted a lot of photos of physical books, I’ve also posted a photo of my Kindle Paperwhite. I have been using my Kindle a lot lately, having bought 4 books and received two via NetGalley on there. Electronic reading means that publishers can use websites such as NetGalley to easily send ARCs to reviewers such as myself. For the reader, it means that you can carry a huge amount of books around on a device much smaller and lighter than even one novel. It also means that you don’t even have to get up to start reading something else once finishing a book, and can instantly download the next one in a series. While it’s an art that I think most readers have mastered, stuffing a 600 page novel into an already full bag is definitely not an easy feat! Reading on a phone makes books even more portable, eliminating the need to pack anything extra – however I find that this strains my eyes, so I don’t tend to do it. eReaders also provide more accessibility for many people; those with visual impairments can make the text as large as they need, making many books that wouldn’t be physically printed in large text much more accessible.
Another point worth mentioning for electronic reading is that there’s much more access to independent authors via eBooks – a lot of people self publish eBooks, and publishers often start publishing independent authors on eBook before physical copies. If you want to read more independent titles I would say that the Kindle Store has a much larger, more varied selection of independent writers than most physical book shops.
Audio books have never really been something I’ve gotten into. My family like them, including my brother and dad, who don’t enjoy reading. Personally I’d rather read, as I find that I can’t fully put all my attention into audio books. I also find that the person reading them definitely affects my ability to engage with the story. I listened to the original dramatised radio show of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and while I loved that and still listen to Welcome To Night Vale, a serialised story told through podcasts, overall I prefer to read stories rather than listen to them. Despite not being my read or just want something other than music to listen to while travelling or nodding off to sleep, I’d definitely say that audio books could be for you. Audio books also make books much more accessible to those with visual impairments.
So there’s my view on it. I don’t really see the need to be so purist about one medium over another – they all have good and bad points, and I feel like judging someone’s personal preferences breeds an attitude that just puts people off reading. We should aim to encourage literacy and reading, not judge people if they’d rather read on their phone than get a physical book! I don’t believe that physical books are threatened by the electronic publishing industry, and I don’t believe that eReaders can ever fully replace the feel of a physical book. For me the most important thing in reading is that the story is good; whatever format it’s in.
What’s your favourite method of reading? Have I forgotten anything?