On Reading Insecurity, E+L=M, and a Billfold Book Club Update

Yesterday, Slate ran a long and thoughtful post on reading insecurity: “the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to.” Katy Waldman worries about what happens to us when we choose Facebook feeds over books or wonder why we don’t spend whole afternoons lost in novels the way we did when we were children.

I don’t know about you, but I read a lot. I’m also indiscriminate; I’ll spend an hour reading the new Anna Quindlen book and an hour reading the Captain Awkward archives and it’s all reading. I try not to feel badly when I pick a Facebook feed over a book because the Facebook feed is closer to what I actually need in the moment (usually, connection with friends; occasionally, schadenfreudy gossipy stuff — which is, by the way, another method of connecting with friends).

But longing for the days when I could read like I did as a child? NOPE. Today is so much better. I have an e-reader and a library connection. I can literally think of a book, type it into a search box, and begin reading it for free. Or I can browse the online stacks, follow reader recommendations, download books to my e-reader, read the first 10 pages of each, and return anything I don’t like.

I wouldn’t go back to the “good old days.” Getting lost in the Narnia books as a child may have felt like magic, but e-readers plus libraries equals actual magic. I wake up nearly every morning to a message from the Seattle Public Library: “Hey, that book you wanted that was on hold? It’s yours now. Open up your Kindle.” It’s like Christmas morning and my Kindle is a holiday stocking and everything I ever wanted is inside.

Which brings me to our Billfold Book Club update: I started reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South this weekend, and I think it makes the most sense to split North and South into two parts. (The big advantage to doing this is so we can spend the first discussion considering what we think the characters should do, and the second discussion comparing that to what they actually did.)

So. I pitched Thursday, October 16 as our initial deadline, and I’d like to hold to that. Let’s read Chapters 1 through 25 for Thursday, October 16. The end of Chapter 25 is a good stopping point, and leaves the characters hanging from a decent-sized cliff, so we’ll have plenty to discuss.

Then we can finish the book discussion, Chapters 26 through 52, for Thursday, November 20.

And then we’ll have to figure out what to do about the miniseries.

Photo: CCAC North Library

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