When I was a child, I devoured books at the rate of one or two a day but as I’ve got older (much older!), my reading rate, along with everything else, it seems, has slowed down considerably. Reading a standard novel can take weeks to finish. Sometimes longer.
So I was rather surprised the other day to realise that in the space of a few hours I had read Nora Ephron’s I feel Bad About My Neck, was on Chapter 8 of Life of Pi by Yann Martel and almost finished How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months by John Locke. Frankly, I was astonished.
Then I looked at what was on my kindle, over 30 books, most already finished. What the hell was going on? It got me thinking. In my job and as a writer, I spend a good deal of my working day at a computer screen. I’m more used to reading words on a screen than on paper now. So I did some research (via Google of course!) and apparently the way the brain experiences a book (printed) is different to a digital book.
In fact, if you use a specific technology often enough (or undertake any highly repetitive action) neurons in your brain fire in a certain way and make strong connections so that the action we undertake becomes second nature; effectively “rewiring” the brain and affecting our evolution. Quite literally,mind-blowing.
To quote a phrase from Hebb’s Law:
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Wow! So is that what’s happening? My brain has, over a period of time, simply rewired so that my preferred reading platform is now digital rather than paper?
Who knows? What matters to me is that I feel like since getting my humble kindle ink, I have rediscovered the joys that reading brought me as a child and which I lost for a big chunk of my life. I’m really grateful for that.