Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

The Joy Of The Ramble

Can I come straight out and say it? I love reading, and books are my favourite. That gets all the disclaimers out of the way and makes my probable bias obvious right from the start. However, there is something about reading books that not only entertains me but means I learn more along the way, and the web will never replace that.

Books receive a lot of criticism. Even perceived intellectuals, like the now-disgraced crypto guru SBF, fail to see the value in books. They are denounced as “too slow” or not “entertaining enough” by a range of people who seem to think information should be mainlined into their veins. There is more to reading a book specifically that many people seem to miss - and reading doesn’t need to be hacked!

The entire experience of touching and turning pages might seem redundant, but that tactile chore is the very point. Research by Anne Mangen has shown a crucial link between the sensory and motor experience of reading a physical book. It draws not just on our sense of sight but also on our sense of touch, changing the depth of attention paid to words on a page compared to words on a screen.

My personal ranting about books that should have been blog posts does hide my enjoyment of reading them. There is something enjoyable about taking in someone’s prose that goes around the houses a bit and reinforces their ideas with real-life examples. While straight-to-the-point blog posts, like the one you’re reading now, have their place, there is joy in the ramble. The slow pulling back of the curtain to reveal new ideas, rather than a yanking of the cover and pointing, is delightful.

I am reminded of the habit all students get into of relying on Cliffnotes for books they’re supposed to read. Shoving the information straight into my brain instead of the steady drip from long text never worked. Nowadays, there are several companies out there summarising books and even films so you can act as if you consumed the content without actually doing the work. All of which achieve results, but lack that something special.

Much like my enjoyment of the pauses in podcasts, I think this comes from my tendency to enjoy being slow, but I find taking the time to read a book. A ‘real’ book if I can, adds so much to the enjoyment.

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