The Magic of Books

The Magic of BooksAn interesting article was publishing recently, which spoke to the benefits of reading paper books. I highly suggest you read it, even if you prefer onscreen reading. In the article, it talks about how actually physically turning the pages of a book helps you to absorb the story, as well as giving you a sense of control—you can flip back and forth as you choose, fold pages, and even feel a sense of completion at the end of a page or chapter. Not things that you can generally do with e-books. I know that some allow you control, depending on your ereader, but not all.

This article got me thinking about the different ways that books can influence our minds, even in the simplest of forms. For me, they are a means to time travel, a comfort “food”, and landmarks of learning and experiences.

For example, when I open a book that I have read before, I am instantly taken back to the first time that I read it. The smells, the time of year, the emotions that I was feeling—all of it floods back and it helps me to put everything, not just the book, into perspective. Perhaps I was reading the book at a stressful time, and now, coming back to it, I am proud of how I improved my situation.

Then there are those times when I want to feel the way I did before. When I pick up a book that I was reading during a happy, comfortable time in my life and those feelings return to make me feel safe, happy, and whole. How every page will remind me of a home cooked meal at my grandparents, or a snowy night curled up in a pile of blankets. Sometimes I pick up those books not because I want to read the story again, but because I want to remember what it was like when I read that story.

Or how a realization in a book caused me to change the way that I thought, or taught me something I hadn’t known before. Tracing the arc of your thought process, and attributing that change or tangent to a book can be a phenomenal experience. It proves that authors who we have never met, and who we will never know, can influence our minds, and even our souls. Books go a lot deeper than just words on a page.

I have always read books in a way that they touch every one of my senses. I remember the feel of the cover and the pages, the small of the paper and ink, the taste of the sesame snaps I was eating while I read, the sound of the rain and snow outside of the window, and the bright sun or soft lamp that showed me the words. Each one brings something different to me, from an experience that I had before.

I know that the ebook debate will rage on for years, just as the serial comma debate, but I want to know where you stand, and if that article set the gears in your mind to working.

Do you read ebooks or paper books, and do you find that you experience them differently? Are you an “all senses” reader, and if so, do you still find that you get the same experience from onscreen reading?

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29 thoughts on “The Magic of Books

  1. I don’t mind an e reader for an article, but to truly engage I need the touch of the page, the flipping and I love the smell of an old book. Also as a teacher of first graders, I seethe interaction with an actual book as essential to literacy, When it comes down to it, we don’t live in a virtual world, but I do see a place for virtual libraries not as replacement but for enhancement to the literate human race.

    • What an interesting perspective you get to see! I suppose you see more of what a direct impact different forms of reading have on the young mind, since you are a teacher. I’d love to spend a few days in a classroom someday, just to watch how those little minds work! 🙂 The internet itself is almost a virtual library, but I suppose there’s nothing wrong with learning, and the more that everyone has available to them, the more that literacy, and equality in education come about.

  2. I’ve been reading the books on my e-reader lately, catching up on what I’ve been storing on there and missing. I like it, but I miss the weight of a book in my hands, the smell of the pages, and the excitement of seeing the end in sight. Books are better in paperback, if you ask me. Though I do see the appeal of an e-book. And I don’t mind when people check out my books in e-book form.

  3. I can’t agree more, there is nothing like a real paper book, I don’t even own an e-reader and I don’t even want to, I think working behind the laptop all day long is just enough for me and there is some sort of comfort I get by turning the pages and smelling the book – not having to look at the screen of something electronic.
    Also, I like seeing all the books on the shelfs and underlining paragraphs or quotes that I like and return back to them whenever I want – that is a magic of a book for me.
    Nice post!

    • Yes, I also work onscreen all day, so by the time I get home, I am sick of it. I prefer to do my professional reading onscreen, and my personal reading on paper. I have shelves of books too, and love the look of them. It’s just so nice to put a cover with a story and recognize them that way. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I enjoyed this post. I’m not an “all senses” reader as you put it, but I do have an observation to make on the subject of paper vs. e-reader reading experience. I have an e-reader and I use it a good deal, but there’s something about paper (I prefer hardbound books; there’s something more “substantial” about reading pages “between the boards”. The one thing I find most satisfying (gratifying?) about reading a “real” as opposed to a “virtual” book, is the amount of information I retain after completion. The best way I can describe it is like learning your way around a new town; it’s much easier to learn your way around if you walk or drive rather than simply being a passenger in a car or bus or taxi (or even having a friend show you around). I don’t know how else to explain it, except to say you’re more inclined to pay attention to what you’re doing. Real books have that effect on me. It may be different for other (in fact, it probably is) but that’s just me, I guess.

    • Thank you kindly! I prefer hardcovers as well, but my bank account does not, 😉 In the article, it does talk about how you retain more information with a physical book than with an ebook. It’s interesting to see that that is true, at least for some. I find that for work, when either editing or reading, I prefer to do it onscreen, mostly for convenience. When I am reading for pleasure, I prefer actual paper content. Good analogy with the driving, I believe that’s an excellent way of putting it.

  5. I do have an e-reader; however, I prefer paper. I prowl about in Goodwill–it’s amazing what folks give away! I’ve seen dozens copies of many classics, for $2 or less. The only time I rolled into a retail bookstore is when I’m in need of a new journal! LOL!

  6. I’ve been doing a lot of ebooks of late, and while it is an easy way to read and store, I find not being able to flick pages and check out the cover are things I miss.

  7. I hate E Books…I just can’t stand that computer screen…it hurts…I love the smell of book…and I can totally relate to your feelings about the books…if I am re reading a book…I can’t help recalling the first time I read it…I love to fold the pages of my fav dialogues in the book…sometimes I read those folded pages again and again…my fellow readers says I am old school…but I want to remain old school forever…I can’t imagine my life without a beautiful paper book 🙂

  8. Pingback: The Magic of Books | The End Game Counts

  9. I was very into my kindle fire when j was thirteen—woah, you can watch Netflix on it!—the books are so much cheaper!—and look, there are all these exclusive ebooks!—but now that I’m getting older I’m beginning to re-appreciate the value of paper books. For my birthday and Christmas I asked for pretty much only books, and now my shelf is entirely full for the first time in years. It makes my room feel so cozy, and I love the way it looks.

    Having physical books also allows you to lend them out to people! Sharing books is such an intimate experience for me. Loaning out my kindle always makes me nervous since years of use and abuse on my part has made it fragile already. Whereas I have no problem loaning out my real-life books at all (at least, not most of them! there’s a few that are very special to me).

    I spilled tea all over my copy of phantom of the opera and I wasn’t even worried. It wasn’t any sort of fancy edition, and I feel like it gives the book more character, ya know? Whereas if I spilled tea on my kindle, I probably wouldn’t have a kindle anymore !!

    • Yes, the price is a big one. I often wish that it was easier to find hardcovers of new releases for a few dollars, but that’s impossible. At least ereaders offer that, I suppose.

      There is something magical about the way that a full shelf looks and feels, it always baffles me as to how many stories and worlds and characters are all sitting in a corner of my living room. Although, I’ve read all of them already. I’m jealous that you have new ones to read! 🙂

      I’m definitely the opposite of you. I really don’t like to lend out books. I will to certain people on occasion, but I would prefer not to. They often don’t come back, or aren’t in good shape anymore, which drives me insane.

  10. Ereaders are handy for traveling and novels, but I love paperbacks, especially when reading books on writing. I love folding pages, going back to a page, highlighting etc.

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