With all the Kindle hype we've all endured recently (and I've seriously considered a future purchase of one) and all the babble that speculation on the impact this might have on the readin' and writin' industry, I've probably spent more time in the consideration of books, conceptually as opposed to the title-to-title thinking that usually dominates brain cycles, in the past month than I ever have.
Thinking about books instead of actually reading them typically yields grim results for me. This is especially the case when I attempt to write about them here. Part of the insta-failure has a lot to do with the consideration of an audience that does not exist and another with getting myself all entangled in the snarls of more formal criticism of anything that isn't software. The point here is that I read constantly but write little about it, at least here. During my huge span of unemployment when I had more bonus time than I've had in my entire life my reading habits changed for the infinitely worse and only now are beginning to recover. The symptoms were typical: reading only when on public transportation, reading only genre fiction or books that I've read dozens of times before, and generally laziness towards reading for extended periods of time.
Now that I actually have a job and am not spending large amounts of what could otherwise be idle time stressing out and reloading Craigslist every 45 seconds I've gravitating back towards spending more free time reading. One distinction that I really needed to make was between reading from one of my computers and reading dead tree books. This is the line that the Kindle blurs somewhat and makes more more cautious about even considering it for a potential wish list item. The ease of distraction when reading text from a computer is obvious and it doesn't necessarily make for a focused platform for reading huge chunks of text that necessitate both concentration and the ability to return to the text at a later time. The only time that I've successfully read long pieces of writing on a computer is when that computer is not connected to the internet. The Kindle is perpetually connected to some kind of internet access. I've reluctant to count that as a strike against its value since, you know Free IntarWeb and all but it does count against its value as a dedicated reading terminal.
All of that said, I've returned to the habit of just reading again. It's stupid and simplistic enough to make me think that I'll soon be astonished by sliced bread and flushing toilets. I knew that it was a better idea and follows all of the conventions for success in study but I'd nearly forgotten how rejuvenating it is to just sit and read for several hours without interruption. I need to not forget the feeling of composure that extended reading gives me and what a powerful antidote it is to the feeling of perpetually scattered thinking that comes along with having your attention span artificially segmented by all of your crap that beeps. I'm going to try to do all of my reading offline for a couple of weeks (excepting newspapers because they're stupid) to see how it effects the reading that I do online. I'll venture a guess that it will improve my attention span for individual items and also force me to actually read them instead of skimming and substituting.