Week 7: How We Read, and Why

Like Kali, I would say that in general I read for pleasure on paper, and for work on screen. This likely has something to do with my perceived association between computers and schoolwork or professional work. There is something about a computer screen that doesn’t let me relax; it screams “responsibilities” and even when I am performing personal computer tasks such as checking email or Facebook, I always wish I were doing something different instead.

This may be why I have tended to stick with reading journal articles for school on screen rather than printing them out. Printed texts, to me, are for pleasure. (While articles can sometimes be pleasurable to read, they are still associated with the “work” category in my mind.) Books read for personal pleasure, however, belong in print, for me at least. I also prefer reading print versions of magazines, simply because I love those glossy pages and the act of flipping through them… On the occasions when I buy books (not too often, but sometimes), they are print versions, and ditto for when I borrow books from the library.

I have yet to borrow an e-book from a library: this is largely due to the fact that I prefer the aesthetics of reading print books, but also partly because physically going to the library is an activity that brings me joy. As an aspiring librarian, I love the library as a physical space, and I get excited to go there, even when it is simply to return a book or pick up a hold. There is something wonderful about that moment when you finish a book and get to choose your next, and the library is often a part of this process for me. As such, I don’t see my preferences regarding reading methods and borrowing books rather than buying them changing anytime soon.


who/what/where/why/how to read

Last year, I bought a Kobo.

This was not a small thing for me, since I most of my undergraduate degree mocking eReaders. The first effect I noticed was that I read way more on the Kobo. I’m not sure if my eyes are now so used to screens that it’s more comfortable or if it has to do with the fact that eReaders hide how long the book is. I’m thinking that it’s the latter.

I don’t read a lot on the Kobo but I feel this has more to do with time than the device itself (the few moments I get to read for leisure are full of magazine articles and poetry, all of it bite size). For me, the Kobo is a useful platform because it is always a pocket size book.

Generally, I do find it easier to read on screens, especially when reading articles. I will always finish a New Yorker article on my phone but the print copies gather dust. The smaller the screen, the more likely an article will be read. However, as soon as I know I have to retain information, I have to print the article out. For me, the purpose of reading will determine the medium. If I want to retain information or index it for future use, it has to be spatial and on paper.

Electronic reading has changed the way that I purchase books. I always loved book design but had to purchase cheap editions since the English language collections at my local libraries in Quebec consisted mainly of Stephen King and Anne Rice (which got me through high school). Once I moved to Toronto, met TPL, and eBooks, I began purchasing books whose design was as compelling as the story. In some ways, electronic reading (and a huge public library system) has allowed me to focus my attention on physical books in ways that I couldn’t afford to do before.