Sunday, October 23, 2011

A book to read

This isn't a recommendation for a new book.  I could recommend some, but that's not the point of this entry.

I want to ask you a question:  Which way do you prefer to read a book?
1) eBook - Kindle, Nook, iPad, computer, or other electronic device
2) audiobook - so you can listen to it in the car or whatever
3) paper and ink  - the old-fashioned way

I've actually been doing all three of them.  Right now, I'm working my way through The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as an eBook.  It goes slow, but the actual book is three heavy volumes, and this way I don't have to carry one of them around with me.  The most recent audiobook I "read" was Freakanomics (the Revised Edition).  It was great to listen to as I drove to and from work.  I actually "read" it twice.  I've also enjoyed Harry Potter and the Something Or Other and several fascinating nonfiction works in audio form.

And the most recent paper-and-ink book I read?  Well, it's been over ten years since I read The Lord of the Rings.  I recently revisited the entire trilogy.  I skipped The Hobbit.  I'll go back to it.  But there was stuff in LOTR that I'd forgotten because it's not in the movies, and I needed to read it all again.  The movies are rich, of course, but the books are many times richer.

For the record, although I will continue reading eBooks and audiobooks, I prefer paper and ink.  There's just something about the printed page that the electronic and audio formats just can't deliver.  You can't caress the pages; you can't savour the words.  You can't underline key passages, make annotations in the margins, dog-ear the pages or mark the page edges.  With an eBook, you can at least go back and reread your favorite parts, but they're not that easy to find, and besides, what's the use?  The words in an eBook are sanitized, denatured, squeezed dry of the flavor that paper and ink imparts to the writer's words.

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