I’m currently 82% done with Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. I know this because that’s what my Kindle reader app was telling me last night on my iPad. It’s been a good read — filled with a few interesting revelations on my favorite traveling TV hero — but I’d be lying if I said it has engrossed me.
Oddly enough, this has little to do with Anthony Bourdain’s writing.
This past weekend, I was at Off the Beaten Path Books, my favorite bookstore in Steamboat Springs, where I was flipping through the Lego Illustrated Bible and a compelling set of fiction that I didn’t end up buying. This last part bothered me: at what point did I become the type of consumer who is hesitant to spend $15 of a printed book?
That’s when it dawned on me: I have really got to ban eBooks from my life.
There are a variety of reasons for this. Among them, eBooks apparently encourage slower reading — probably because you can bounce out of them to check scores on the ESPN Scorecenter app, then bounce back. But I have a few deeper reasons to banish them. Ones that get more to the humanity of what reading stories is all about.
The essence of reading a book is what it does for expanding your mind, and I find that this process requires patience and isolation. With other apps just a few finger taps away, I’m not wired to get that isolation on an iPad.
Also, I spend 9 hours a day in front of a computer screen, and that’s only at the office. I also spend maybe 9 hours a year in bookstores such as Off the Beaten Path or the Tattered Cover (less in libraries), places where people sit, relax, slow down, and chat at reasonable volumes with each other. It’s a civil place.
Now, I’ll be the first person to admit that printed content is rightfully losing its place in the marketing world. Online content gives us so much flexibility, insight and feedback, we’d be foolish to go back. But perhaps we should give print a get-out-jail-free card when it comes to non-fiction and fiction.
So back to that Bourdain book I have loaded on the Kindle app. The beauty of reading a book is the lowered heart rate it requires. It’s a tap on the shoulder and a whisper in the ear to slow down. That simple slider and read-out saying I’m 82% complete with Kitchen Confidential sure makes the book feel like every other fast-paced media in my life…. like this blog.