Why Slow Reading?
A 2014 study found that readers of a short mystery story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering the order of events than those who read the same story in paperback. Lead researcher Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University concluded that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.”
I have a Kindle. I started out with a basic e-reader and later upgraded to a Kindle Fire. Although I was resistant at first, I recognised the convenience in e-readers, and being a technophile it was probably a given that I would get one eventually. I love that I can load up a ton of books and take it with me on a trip. I love that I can instantly purchase and start to read a book I really really want. But over time I could also tell that reading on the Kindle was affecting me. Especially the Kindle Fire. My sleep suffered. I would turn it off at night, then find myself tossing and turning unable to go to sleep. That dreaded blue light!
There are now numerous studies out supporting that reading a paper book is better for your brain.
The tactile experience of a book aids this process, from the thickness of the pages in your hands as you progress through the story to the placement of a word on the page. Mangen hypothesizes that the difference for Kindle readers “might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading.”
Are you ever frustrated reading a Kindle? Hate not being able to flip though pages to see how much is left in a chapter, or to go back to remind yourself of a plot or character development? Do you miss the tactile experience? Sure, you got used to it, but maybe reading a paper book feels like coming home to you?. The weight, the feel of the paper, the scent. Nothing beats a real book.
I’m not saying we should all throw our e-readers out. They definitely have their place. I’m simply suggesting that we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. That maybe we can just slow down a little, and appreciate the beauty in the process of reading a paper book. Either going to an actual book store, and browsing the shelves, or ordering online and waiting excitedly for it to arrive while checking the mailbox every day. (What? You know you do this too!)
So here’s my challenge to you. Choose a paper book and commit to reading it for 30 to 40 minutes each day. Start by choosing a special book, one you’ve really been wanting to read. I have found that there are certain books I HAVE to have in paper format, it’s almost like a sacrilege that it’s available in e-format. (Like To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s just wrong dudes.)
So are you with me? Drop a line in the comments saying “I’m in!” and share your chosen book if you like. You can download the Slow Reading Manifesto to print out, and grab the badge below for your blog. I’ll be using the hashtag #slowreading when I post about my experiences on social media. Feel free to use it too, so I can find you and see what you’re up to. Ready, set, READ!