Faulkner Would Have Crashed and Burned on Twitter

Books and technology: I’m reading all the time now, even when I’m not always conscious of it.

We live in a connected world. Sometimes it feels like the only times I’m offline are when I’m sleeping or logistically incapacitated due to the subway. This has impacted my reading as well.

When Kindles first came out, they seemed blasphemous to me. I loved the tactile element to books – the flipping of the page, the personalization (how my copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn looks so different than my friend Sarah’s), and how a book has its own family tree (how my dad handed me his ancient print of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I read alongside his college annotations).

On the flip side of books and technology, if you’ve ever lugged Proust in the same bag as your computer and gym clothes, it’s easy to see why people love their Nooks and Kindles. Like most things, the technological advances in the publishing world are often more convenient than the old way.

And it’s not just the delivery system of books that has changed. Social media and the internet have altered the way we digest information.

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Historically, reading has been a “slow” process, one that requires time, space and solitude. And we used to have to procure the book itself by entering a bookstore or library and searching through the titles.

Now, we can scroll through a page while eating waffles, watching baseball and painting our nails simultaneously (that last bit only if we’re really talented). We want to read information quickly, and we expect the articles we see online to be produced in real time. On the internet, reading is condensed into shareable snippets. Faulkner would have crashed and burned on Twitter.

Despite the fact that I have a professional background in tech and social media, for a long time I felt that books were somehow sacred, something that technology should not touch.

But the more the rest of my daily routine incorporated these changes, the more I realized that instead of the internet infringing upon my reading, it had actually opened up my horizons. We’re able to absorb and consume more media than ever before – whether it’s peering at a Gif-laden cat article a friend passes along or digging into the latest fiction piece uploaded by The New Yorker on our lunch break.

I’m reading all the time now, even when I’m not always conscious of it. And it’s become a sort of song and dance, a wonderful fusion of reading bursts throughout the day and prose at night, a mix of the instant quick hits of internet articles paired with the eventual curling up on the couch with my hardcover novel.

Though sometimes technology is intimidating (particularly when some new feature comes out that confuses me), I’ve realized how much it’s enhanced and driven my reading. There are apps, there are online communities, there are Twitter news bites all at my fingertips.

And although 140 characters isn’t how I defined the term “reading” prior to the tech boom, now I’ve simply expanded the definition. And really, how could having more to read be a bad thing?

RIFers! How has technology has impacted your reading? Do you have a love-hate relationship with your e-reader? Leave a comment!

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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