Reading and wandering

Reading a book is a physical act, writes Andrew Piper on Slate, arguing that an e-reader just isn’t the same. Every night, he reads his children a bedtime story.

As I begin to read, the kids begin to lean into me. Our bodies assume positions of rest, the book our shared column of support. No matter what advertisers say, this could never be true of the acrobatic screen. As we gradually sink into the floor, and each other, our minds are freed to follow their own pathways, unlike the prescribed pathways of the Web. We read and we drift. ‘The words of my book nothing,’ writes Walt Whitman, ‘the drift of it everything.’

Reading sets minds wandering, the best way to discover new ideas, writes Piper. “New connections, new pathways, and sharp turns are being made as we meander our way through the book, but also away from it.”

. . .  We may be holding the book together, but our minds are no doubt far apart by now. The fairy tale is the first story of childhood because it tells of such leaving behind (parents and home), of entering the dreamscape of the woods—and the mind. It tells of the crooked path of change. How can one know where reading books ends and dreaming in books begins?”

Via Annie Murphy Paul.

Do readers’ minds wander less with an e-reader? I prefer to read a real book, if I’m not traveling, but reading a screen is still reading.

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