Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Salon: Modern Reading

This morning my husband sat down, as he does on a Sunday, to read The New York Times, cup of tea by his side, and I sat at the computer, as I do, to read The New York Times, cup of coffee by mine. Okay, I wasn't actually reading The New York Times only. I had linked over from The Huffington Post, one of the many stops on the twice or thrice daily scans of the political blogs I make in my pre-election madness. I linked to an article in The Times by Frank Rich, a columnist whose opinion I often consult, because the title, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?", intrigued me.

I read through the article, which is about how far we as a nation have (or have not) come in our perceptions of race, as we are (hopefully) on the brink of electing a black man as President. And not only was I engaged with the content of the article, I found myself thinking that even The New York Times has begun to use the web in the way bloggers do. The article was full of links, and not only to other Times articles. Rich's article had many links to explicate his points, and they were from previous articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Gallup Poll site, The Washington Post, the Pew Research Center site, Findlaw for legal professionals (a site to look up court cases), Time Magazine, and even The Huffington Post.

As we both read the same article, I was struck by how different were my husband's and my reading experiences. My husband had his experience reading this op-ed piece the old-fashioned way, turning the pages, smelling the newsprint, and reading this essay in the way I'm sure it was meant to be read, in one long, fluid reading. I read the piece in the modern way, pausing to follow links, the reading itself perhaps fractured or disjointed, but enriched by the links to even more information.

In this political season, I have stopped getting my news from the TV, as it feels like the pundits are merely screaming their party lines at me. And I've stopped reading the physical daily newspaper, as it feels like old news by the time it lands on my doorstep in the morning. But on Sundays I do like my New York Times in the tactile form, as what it lacks in immediacy it makes up for in quality in writing, reporting, and opining.

As for my fiction reading, I still go about it the old-fashioned way. That's partly because for me, reading is more than just absorbing the words on the page. I like to curl up in a comfortable place, have a cup of coffee or some chocolate at hand, physically turn the pages, make notes in the margins, and make reading into a pleasurable experience on more than one level.

But I am thinking about buying a Kindle...


Lezlie said...

Ah! A fellow Huffington Post fan! Great site, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

How interesting - it IS a different reading experience, isn't it, when there are lots of links included. Generally I read something on the web straight through and return to follow up on interesting links as I don't favour the interruptions. But maybe if the content was factual, I'd explore the hypertext.

Gentle Reader said...

lezlie--great site, always entertaining!

litlove--I sometimes find myself thinking how disjointed a reading experience it can be, if I don't make an effort to read all the way through something before I go off on all the link tangents that are available. When I read that way, I feel like a distracted multi-tasker, really part of the MTV generation of people who have the attention span of a flea...and since I get much of my news information that way, I have to make a concerted effort to actually finish reading articles on the web!

Anonymous said...

I was finishing a couple ARCs and gave my attention to the NY Times crossword, which was a collaborative effort. I have grown numb to coverage of the election campaign. I'm gravitated as to whom and what I'll vote for on Tuesday.

Gentle Reader said...

matt--the good old NYTimes crossword is a great way to spend part of your Sunday! I cannot wait until this election is over!!!