Cyber Books Don’t Stick

For the past year, I’ve been reading most of my books on the Kindle or iPad. It’s just so handy to carry my library with me that way, and the books (while not cheap, as if digital printing costs a lot) are less expensive.

Plus, when we moved at the end of the year, I had to give away half of my carefully accrued library, which bruised my soul. So, I figured, fine, I’ll just get books online now.

(That photo shows one of three trips I made to give books to the local library.)

But I’ve discovered something interesting. I don’t retain the books I read online nearly as well as I do printed books, and I’m not talking possession. I’m talking in my brain. When I try to recall the ebooks I’ve read in the past year, I have a vague recollection of the story and plotline, but most of the particulars are hazy. On the other hand, when I try to recall books I’ve read on the page, they seem to stick with me. Fact.

I read somewhere that the human brain doesn’t retain as much when the print is digital versus ink. I’ll have to look for those articles again, because I think I’m living proof of that truth. eBooks are definitely more convenient, but I think I’ll reserve eBooks for those quick reads (the Lee Child books), and save actual printed books for those I want to savor and enjoy again and again (PD James, Meg Gardiner, Laurie R. King, C. S. Forester, etc.).

Of course, that means I’ll rebuild my library, but I must. It’s part of who I am. I’m a reader and a writer. I own books. I love books. I need books.

Ralph McInerny

I’m currently copy editing a new book about Robert McInerny, professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame for 54 years, renowned theologian, and prolific writer, both of philosophical books and fiction.

From what I’ve read, and researched on my own, the man was truly gifted and used those gifts prodigiously. If I’d known about him when I was selecting a graduate school, I might have chosen Notre Dame, just to study with him.

My mind boggles at McInerny’s accomplishments. I’m such a slacker. True, I edit all day and don’t really want to sit and read or write when I stop working, but what time I’m wasting by not doing so. I could be reading McInerny’s books, or the plethora of other authors on my To-Read list. I could be working on my own writing, rather than waiting for that day when I will be “free” to write.

True, I am working at my craft for hours every day, but what is my output? Nothing of my own, and there’s the rub. I’m helping others with their writing but ignoring my own and, worse, ignoring  magnificent works that I’ve never read.

It’s time to refocus. Of course I will continue my work: it’s what I love and it helps put food on the table. But I the time has come, the walrus said, to get back to the books! For my own enjoyment and edification.

I know I’ll still watch TV and movies, but I’ll allot time, grudgingly, away from the books…fiction, non-fiction, perhaps even poetry. Kindle and iPad, here I come.

Thanks to Ralph McInerny for spurring me on.