Unexpected benefits of e-readers

My reading and writing lives ebb and flow in reverse. When I’m writing a lot, I read almost nothing. So when when the writing tide goes out, what comes back in is the reading tide. I read while I edit and I’m in an editing stage at the moment.

It’s a good time to read, too, since I got that NOOK for Christmas. I think of it as my mini iPad, and I honestly think Barnes and Noble should market it as one. Not quite all the features, but perfect for e-reading. It’s got good crosswords, too.

Enough of the NOOK bragging. What I’ve noticed about e-reading is that there are some unexpected benefits of it. For instance, I used to hate thinking people could tell I was reading a romance novel instead of Anna Karenina. Guess what? Nobody can tell. No lurid covers to give you away with an e-reader. All anybody knows is that you’re a reader.

And hey, we all run across words in novels that we don’t actually know, right? Doesn’t matter how smart we are. We could have won a spelling bee and still not know what pulchritude means. But if we run across it, how many of us are actually going to get up and go thumb through Webster’s? Guess what? E-readers are equipped with dictionaries. Just click on the enigmatic word and wa-laa! You’re one word smarter.

Finally, the benefit I noticed just this morning. I’m reading Nicholas Sparks’ new book SAFE HAVEN. To truly understand why this is such a benefit, you need to understand something else. I’m not a huge Nicholas Sparks fan. I have read a lot of his books because he’s my neighbor and it seems smart to read what such a hugely successful writer writes. His books always make me cry, resulting in blurred vision and the inability to see the words on the page. I recognize his talent for storytelling and I study it, but left to my own devices, I turn to scifi and mystery and horror more often than romantic drama.

Well, SAFE HAVEN is a departure for Sparks. It’s amazingly good and I haven’t cried once while reading it. In fact, I’ve torn through it—well, considering I read at a snail’s pace and even during a reading tide only get to read an hour or two a day. I’m close to the end and I’m noticing something mysterious about one of the characters. If I were reading the novel in paper form, I’d be tempted to flip ahead and find out if my suspicions are true. Since I’m reading it on an e-reader, I haven’t done that. I’m actually reading the novel the way it was intended to be read! I haven’t done that in ages.

It’s not that I’ve become more patient or that SAFE HAVEN (good as it is) has any special power over me. I think I just don’t actually feel like the pages are there until I tap the right side of my screen and the words magically change. I know they’re in there, but since I can’t feel them, I’m not tempted. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could apply this to other aspects of our lives? Think about the food replicator in Star Trek. If we had that instead of a refrigerator and cabinets of actual food, maybe we wouldn’t all be fighting obesity!

I’ll wind this up by reminding you that Joe Young (see the feature area, top left) will join me on Monday to kick off my series about naming characters. If you’re in the mood for a vampire novel, check out his book NAME. I highly recommend it.