My loyal reader, Gabrielle, recently posed a bookish question in my comments section, and I certainly won’t pass up an opportunity to be a literary Dear Sugar!
How do you feel about reading with technology? I just started a much acclaimed novel with a strong historical element and find myself grabbing my phone as I read to google names of important sites in the book and maps. Is this a distraction? Should I wait a few more pages till the author introduces that topic more? Should I just plod along like in the old days? Thoughts?
The minute technology and reading comes up, people get hot and bothered. Usually there’s some sort of simmering resentment between gadget lovers (who love the easy accessibility of information, or the storage and portability of e-readers and tablets, or just the awesomeness of being on the cutting edge) and paper book lovers (who love the smell or the feel or the physicality of ownership). In this particular debate, I have always said, “Read how you want.”
But you seem to be asking something different. You are wondering if reading something and then stopping to explore an idea on the internet is a bad thing. Well, again, is any reading-related activity a bad thing? Probably not. If the way you read in the “old days” involved “plodding,” then BY All MEANS, grab your phone and google away. Some might find that process to be “interactive reading,” where the text inspires you to search and explore.
I will confess to something, however. The internet has inspired in me a host of bad habits. If I let myself, I will check my email or Twitter or Facebook just because I can. I will quickly ditch my chapter when there are so many digital rabbit holes to investigate. For me, searching the internet can get in the way of sinking deeply into the worlds that good books offer. It can make me lazy.
So I suppose my answer is still, “Read how you want.” But if you ever see ME googling something while reading, please tell me to put my phone down.
The Leaning Stack