Monday, 11 February 2013

Do digital books make you read faster?

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.

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  1. I really can't get into eBooks lol. I keep starting them, then I stop and pick up a paper book lol ;)


    1. I love both! Sometimes I will have the kindle open while dipping into a tree book!

  2. Nice to meet you Jane. Always nice to hear a fresh voice. I only wish an electronic device made me type faster--and better!
    ~Just Jill

  3. Hi Jill - lovely to meet you! I type very fast on my lappie but it is full of errors - thank goodness for spellcheck!