Thursday, January 21, 2010

Re-kindling Perspectives on Reading: Part I

Books sustain my existence. In fact, my relationship with books is almost religious. I worship words. I praise information. I revere talented authors that make me think, argue, and question. I adore books—I love the way they feel, the way they look, the way they smell. Barnes and Noble is my Mecca.

Till now, the advent of the Kindle and the Nook and other e-reader devices has pretty much been lost on me. I kind of knew they were out there, but didn’t pay attention. I think it would have remained like that for a long time, but, as fate would have it, someone recently gave my husband a Kindle as a gift.

At first, it felt like an affront. I wriggled my nose and snootily asked, “what do you need that for?” I couldn’t fathom reading on a little computer thing. What if you want to make notes or mark pages? How do you know how much more you have to read? How do you curl up with a computer?

Despite my skepticism, I was curious. I wanted to know how it worked. The first thing my husband downloaded was a document I found on the internet that I wanted to read. I tried it. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t a book either. So at the urging of many colleagues and a couple of friends, I decided to read Sarah’s Key. The inspiration came at 9:00 on a Sunday night. I was in my pajamas and mentioned to my husband that I’d like to give this Kindle reading thing a whirl. Ten seconds and six dollars later, I had Sarah’s Key in my hands. It felt like reading magic. Could access to books be that simple?

At the time of this writing, I am 30% of the way through Sarah’s Key. I don’t find I’m missing the feel of the book. It seems those computer engineering types really did their homework about what readers want and need. It’s a great size. I tucked it in my purse and read while I waited with my son at the doctor’s office. The font size is good (and I could change it if I wanted), my hands don’t get tired. Snuggling and being cozy is not an issue.

As I proceed with this experiment, I have many thoughts running through my mind about how this will change me as a reader. As I consider that, I am also wondering how it will or could change the face of reading instruction. But those thoughts I’ll save till next time.

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