My Epic of Gilgamesh post is imminent.
Until then I wanted to mention two articles that recently appeared on Wired magazine’s blog The Frontal Cortex on the subject of reading in the digital age. In “The Future of Reading” and “The Educational Benefit of Ugly Fonts”, blogger Jonah Lehrer discusses how the convenience of e-readers could be detrimental to our overall engagement with books. He hypothesizes that the growing clarity of e-ink combined with the ease of devices such as the kindle are creating mindless readers. Because we no longer face troubles with the mechanics of reading, there is less need to stop and understand the text on a deeper level. Things like smudged ink and bad fonts can actually drastically improve comprehension and retention because it forces the reader to slow down and take part. It wakes them up, essentially.
Lehrer makes some interesting arguments, many of which I have been mulling over lately. I have to admit, I love using the kindle app on my iPad. Having an easily accessible dictionary and highlighting functions are great. However, finishing a book always feels like an incomplete experience. Something indescribable is missing. Maybe it’s that loss of conscious effort that Lehrer is describing.