The Case For: Reading Paperbacks

The age of analogue has taken a backseat to the seemingly endless supply of streaming services, but maybe it’s time to revive the comforting past time. Since my screen time has been at an all-time high (whether it be balancing Zoom University or WFH for VanMag), finding other means of entertainment beyond the digital sphere has become my main focus, despite my growing watch list on Netflix. There’s something about a physical book with a physical page that pushes the refresh button after a long day of staring at my MacBook screen. 

As far as the actual reading part goes, it wasn’t the easiest habit to start. My mind has adapted to the attention span of half a goldfish cracker, and I’m not the kind of person who can easily tune out the world around them. I’m a natural eavesdropper by trade. When I finally did start carving out the time and space to read, even for just 30 minutes at a time, what I found most distracting of all was getting over the concept that I was, in fact, reading. ‘Look at me, I’m reading. Who am I?’ Come to find out, it’s still me, and I’m still struggling to get past those initial thoughts while diving into a chapter. 

There needs to be something said about the experience of reading a book over other entertainment vices. Sitting down to read forces all of your attention to focus on one thing – the book in front of you. So often, when watching a show or listening to a podcast, I’m doing several things at once, and it can quickly become background noise, as if my own thoughts needed to be replaced with entertainment. When I’m able to adjust to the pace of one page at a time, it’s like the rest of me adjusts too. I’ve physically slowed down, while my mind is speeding up (depending on how intense the novel of choice is).   

So what have I dove into, these last quarantine months? Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, a novel that gets inside the mind of a peculiar 30-something single woman living in London, and takes you through her slowly escalated journey to disillusionment. Becoming by Michelle Obama, is now an all-time favourite memoir, with storytelling that makes me feel like Michelle is personally filling me in on her anything-but-ordinary life. (There’s also a corresponding doc, with the same name, to watch immediately after you finish the Epilogue). I’m currently digging into Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, which has inspired the recent Netflix limited series drama. (So maybe my watch list has influenced my recent hobby more than I’d care to admit.) I’ve also got Educated by Tara Westover and ‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah on my up-next list, because I like to be prepared. 

With the excitement of starting something new, I’ve gone a little gung-ho and have even been avidly updating my GoodReads account to track which books I’ve gone through in the past few months. It’s a book nerd’s paradise in a newsfeed-style social platform, and a great way to find other books based on what you’ve already read. 

We’ll see if this new interest sticks once things start to open back up in the coming months, but for now, my hermit lifestyle has embraced the reading regime.