As a kid I used to always read books while eating breakfast and lunch. And supper too if it had been allowed. But it wasn’t. We ate supper together as a family and were supposed to talk to each other instead of burying our nose in a book.
Sometimes one of us kids would try sneaking one to supper anyways, hiding it on our laps under the table, looking down between bites.
That was all before the internet.
Nowadays I read a lot on my phone instead. Even entire books sometimes, but more often just scanning RSS feeds, websites, Facebook, Wikipedia, and the news.
One feed I follow is Popular Science… who can resist spell-binding headlines like, “What’s the Half-life of DNA?”, “Build Your Own DIY Space Plane”, and “New Worldwide Network Lets Robots Ask Each Other Questions”? Great lunch-reading material for sure. A mile wide and an inch deep.
Though often my feeds don’t even hit an inch deep, like this recent one from National Geographic, “Ancient Egyptian Cemetery Holds Proof of Hard Labor.” Yeah, no joke, I knew that just by glancing at the pyramids one day. (not to say I didn’t read the article anyways)
But I’m wondering if it was better for my brain back in the olde days. Back when I read a mile deep and an inch wide. Even when they were fictional titles of Peretti, Tolkien, and Dumas. Plenty of true stories mixed in too… about war, explorers, the Wild West, hunters, adventurers, more war, astronauts, and missionaries to the headhunters. Not to forget religious works like, “Mere Christianity,” “My Utmost for His Highest,” and of course, The Bible.
If I remember correctly, I’ve read the Bible straight through some six times, and individual books of the Bible innumerable times.
Most stuff on the net is recent. Yet isn’t there something to be said for reading old stuff? Like the stuff of the ancients? Like Mark Twain? Back when they had a flair for words? Those dead people offer us a balancing perspective of wisdom from before the era of iPhones and dishwashers. A much needed perspective, I think.
Books I read as a kid stuck with me. And influenced. And had a smell too. An old, musty smell. The best ones did. To me, Narnia holds a distinct aroma. If you only watch the movies you miss out on that other-worldly smell, that grand scent of moldy paper.
What do you think? Is it better for us to read books? …or articles?
(like this one)