I’ve recently been working to re-establish my long-abandoned habit of taking a physical book EVERYWHERE, even tucking it into my grocery bag to read while in the checkout line. Like many book lovers, as a kid I’d walk to school with an open book in my hands, never once tripping as I read. I imagined inventing a device much like a headband with an extension on the front that would hold the book open in front of my eyes to free up my hands for carrying my lunch box and an open umbrella on drizzly days. What happened? Smart phones, that’s what.
The erroneous belief that I’d read ebooks on my phone while in line killed the habit. The truth is, when I pulled out my phone to read an ebook while waiting in line or sitting in the car while my kids took their sweet time after school, I’d end up perusing news or social media instead. Enough! I decided to reclaim the bound book.
Now I’m ten days into the recalibration—and it’s been glorious. I’m falling in love with the experience of seeing two pages of story open in front of me again, instead of 2 inches of type on a screen. Somehow, reading on my phone always feels like looking at the fictional world through a periscope. Quite unfulfilling. In contrast, a two-page spread of text feels like taking in a lush field and the horizon beyond—a wide, full, clear view of the world.
I hadn’t stopped reading bound books altogether, mind you. I use physical books at night when I’m reading aloud to my sons before bedtime. But I wasn’t using bound books for my own reading. In fact, I rarely sit and read a book. I listen to audiobooks while doing this or that or this other thing. If I’m sitting still, I’m editing someone’s manuscript or writing my own. I wanted to sit and read again. I wanted to enjoy the specific experience of holding open a book and walking into it. It’s strange to think I have to retrain myself to do this thing that was so natural to me most of my life, this thing that I want to do. But it’s a lifestyle change, and those are infamously hard to enact. I’m getting there. I only rarely forget to grab my book before walking out the door now. Soon, “rarely” will be “never.” I know the old saying, “never say never,” but this is a never I’ll happily embrace.