I think it was my “year off” getting my knees replaced that did it. The tiny Kindle was a sanity-saver (and a hats-off to Project Gutenberg, while we’re on the topic) and I got disconnected from paper books. But then, I haven’t been a big consumer of even paper books since the dissertation. My recovery from that segued into a depressive episode, and when I emerged, I was in a life where I’d read/reread most of my books. (I view libraries as evil guilt-producing crackmasters, and have been known to brag about my current immaculate relationship with Cambridge Public the way people in recovery show off their five-year chips.)
By then, I’d started writing, and I had this idea from some quote somewhere that the more I’d read, then the less I’d write–and I’d risk sounding derivative of the writer. So for quite a while, the most complex prose I had was my daughter’s subscription to Cosmopolitan. (Don’t knock it. It ‘splained how to keep my eye shadow out of the creases. I’m a little sad that my daughter traded up to National Geographic.)
I gradually began to read Victorians and mysteries (and have now discovered Victorian mysteries). But then I got a gig of reading and commenting on other people’s novels, so all of a sudden I was reading for a living. Very weird. Sometimes I get a manuscript that is slick clean classy content–and then I don’t, and have to force myself to sit my ass in the chair for five, ten, fifteen minutes as a whack. Mercifully, I read fast. And eventually, I got used to being a writer too. The whole thing made me pickier about what I’d read for fun.
However, my daughter and I always stop by our favorite bookstore when we’re out, and I pick something out with the best of intentions. It is added to the stack, but every so often one jumps into my purse if the Kindle is charging, or if it’s Neil Gaiman, apparently.
So, there I am with Neverwhere in the waiting room. My shrink emerges and gushes over *book* reading, claiming that studies have shown there to be superior cognitive benefit from the physicality of the book. I must admit I recall little of the Kindle-corn I’ve been consuming all year, but had put that down to the quality of writing.
You’re reading from a screen right now–what do you think?