Tech I use: Books

Hey, it’s still a vital and important technology!

Anyone who’s ever seen my home (or my desk, for that matter) knows I tend to live surrounded by piles of books. I love the immersive feel of books, the way that there’s nothing between you and the world they describe other than your own fingers. I love that they’re almost maintenance free (other than some storage choices). I don’t need to recharge something to read them. I don’t need to think about whether I’ll run out battery before I’m done reading. It’s just, y’know, a book.

Reading in the bath is one of my great joys. (Reading in the shower doesn’t work so well!) but I drop books in the bath just often enough (or end up with damp fingers from turning the faucet or whatever) that I’d hate to have electronics nearby.

How much do I use books?

I average reading 20-30 books most months, and unless I’m under a lot of stress or sick, it’s usually about equally balanced between fiction and non-fiction. Left to my own devices, I read a lot of speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) because different settings bring up different kinds of questions, and I really enjoy working through those. But I also read a fair number of historical (and modern) mysteries, a chunk of young adult fiction, and I’ve got a real fondness for dystopia novels. On the non-fiction side, I’m especially fond of microhistories, and of narrative non-fiction – looking at history through the life or experiences of an individual or small group of people. But I also read things that have interesting reviews, books with lots of buzz or conversation around them, and .. well, just about anything else that catches my interest.

There’s a lot of discussion about the future of books. Me, I think print books will be here in some format for a good long while to come. I think there are – and will continue to be – huge numbers of additional ways to access information (and I like those too, generally.) And I think that there are some substantial inefficiencies in the current publishing model (specifically, that you print a bunch of books, and distribute them all over the place, and then hope they sell) that I suspect will change over time. But there’s still something about the physical objects, somehow.

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