On Paper

For a while there, I consumed all my readings via audiobooks. Well, most of them. The leisure ones for sure, as opposed to the reading I have to do for work, such as texts to discuss in class and papers I had to grade. 

You see, I was reluctant to call that “reading,” because a part of me bought into that bs about labour and the kinds of work and activities that count, based on how much quantifiable labour and/or expertise they entail. 

I’m not sure whether listening to audiobooks re-trained me or whether I liked it exactly because of it, but I’ve discovered that I’m a very good aural learner. My memory likes listening, in spite of having believed all my life that I was a visual learner. 

This conundrum led me to ask myself what other false preconceptions I was harbouring about myself—spoiler, there are many, all sneaky and well-hidden—but also how they led me to certain activities, and away from others.

Take singing, for example. I was told when I was a small kid, that I don’t have a good singing voice. In Romanian, a language that likes sparseness, allows omissions, and adores implication, that pronouncement is “N-ai voce,” literally translated as “You don’t have a voice.” Count the syllables and you’ll see what I mean about sparseness.

The thing is, when you tell a kid they don’t have a voice, they internalize it in all the ways. Or maybe that’s just me. People who know me would certainly beg to disagree, but the thing is, I still wrestle with this notion of permission. 

Who am I to talk? To take up space?

In spite of the precious paragraphs, I still have a hard time talking about myself—identity all in flux all the time, as a good haecceity—so I resort to talking about the things that I like to do. 

Potayto, potahto.

Back to reading—notions of effort-based worthiness be damned—I’m finding these days that I’m reverting to reading visually. Also, paper books, which, for a while, had completely disappeared from my leisurely repertoire.

It was so much easier to have everyting in one place: here’s my email, my social media apps, my reading apps. I’ll just read my book for a while. Oh, I wonder what’s happening on Twitter. Wouldn’t wanna miss anything—I got the FOMO real bad, and I rationalized it as a vital for a researcher of contemporary culture such as I was.

You see where this is going, right?

My attention span got shredded to bits. What’s more, whenever I did allow myself to keep reading for a few pages at a time, if I got to a place that was tension-filled, I’d run away seeking succour on social media. Mostly Twitter. 

Are you laughing yet? Cackling? Totally, right? Because seeking angst-relief from Twitter is like walking into briers because you want a caress.

That’s how I got back into reading paper books. What a revolutionary notion, eh? No more ebooks for now, and less and less audiobooks, though I still like the listening, and thoroughly associate it with unwinding after work. 

These days, I find myself putting holds on physical books at the library, and buying the same instead of their electronic versions. I’m not saying a final farewell, but I’m okay with a  break.


What about you? What are your reading habits? Where/on what do you read? How do you keep reading?

4 responses to “On Paper

  • Paper books FOREVER!!

    • Margrit
      6 years ago

      I am coming to see the inalienable truth of your ways, Kerry!

  • I tend to consider as reading only what is in written form 🙂 and meant for the eyes. If I listen to an audiobook, I also have to read it simultaneously. I think I am more a fan of paper, but I like my ebook reader also (I don’t read on the phone, but I do procrastinate like a pro, you know this…)
    Glad you write again. 🙂

    • Margrit
      6 years ago

      <3 i guess it depends on how you prefer to process information. i used to be mostly visual, but i think i find it comforting to process info aurally.
      mersic <3

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