I cannot pinpoint the exact time in my life when my reading routine changed and declined. I don’t know if the academic “rigor” of middle– and high school was the culprit, but I definitely read much less on my own — for pleasure — as I got older. It seemed that most of the things that I read were for school. Outside of schoolwork, I would mainly read car and skateboard magazines, album covers (don’t ask), and occasionally thumb through shelves lined with Encyclopedia Britannica and National Geographic magazines. (What can I say? I’ve been a nerd for a long time.) I was an English major in college, and certainly read a lot. Though much of the material that I read in college literature classes was interesting and enjoyable, that reading, again, was not for pleasure. It took effort to read all of those books. The only thing that saved me throughout my years in school, including law school, is that I typically retain what I read.
But what happened to reading for pleasure? How do I get that back?
The answer to that question has been rather hard to pin down. If you pay attention to my bookmarks series, you probably are thinking, “It sure seems like you read a lot;” but that reading is spread out over the course of a week, and it comes in doses. No longer do I curl up in a chair with a book like I did when I was a kid — escaping into the story.
I have yet to read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which is sitting on my coffee table, but I am very interested to look deeper into about what Carr has to say about how our brains are being rewired because of the Internet. I touched on this a bit in my piece about opting out of social media, but I feel like my thoughts and focus are shot. I look with envy when I see someone lost in a book. Carla is a voracious reader. I want some of that.
I think the first step toward my goal of reading more is to figure out what I am really interested in. I never realized how much I wanted to impress others with smarts. I would, sometimes, read obscure works just that I could sound, if not be, learned. My interest was not connected to what was revealed between the covers of the book, but by the reactions of those who heard me recite the words from these books. That’s bad.
[Start: “dirty laundry”]
Sometime this practice applied to things that interested me, too. I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about the plight of Blacks in this country, as well as Blacks in the diaspora. However, there are times when I would just feel “Blacked Out.” I got sick of always, and fairly exclusively, reading about Black people. For the record, it’s not as easy as just saying “Well, just read something else.” At least it wasn’t that easy for me, because I have always felt a responsibility for being knowledgeable about the history, and current condition, of Black people. That probably needs to be worked out in another post, and I need to move on. I’ll just say this: That shit is exhausting! Fortunately, I have moved to a place where I am focused on being authentic and not living to prove or justify myself, or impress others.
[End “dirty laundry”]
So, what do I want to read? I have always said that I don’t enjoy fiction, which is a bit because I love fictitious movies. Nevertheless, I’ve tried and failed to get into most fiction books. It could have something to do with my lack of patience and focus. I probably haven’t given most books time to warm up and grab my attention. I’ve had a bad habit of approaching books with a microwave attention span. Come on! It’s been 30 seconds already. Why aren’t you hot yet?
Recently, I picked up Shelly Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, about the ironic phenomenon of the disconnection in the age of online social networks and technological tools like email, text messaging and instant messaging. The book has pulled me in, and I admit that I have been quite proud about plowing through the book. I feel inspired. I’ve started to think about what I want to read next. The difference is that I feel the urge to follow through, whereas before I would just buy a new book that would eventually just collect dust on the shelf, coffee table or night stand. I was so tickled with myself in the library that I must have walked around for about 30 minutes before I started to hone in on some books that I have been eyeballing lately. Most of them have to do with creativity, focus, and learning more about how our minds work. Just as I was about to pick up The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robison, I saw Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything and it spoke to me. I took the book the counter with a big smile on my face. The librarian was still entering my information into the computer. She scanned the book and pulled out the date stamp to mark my due date. I felt myself shrink to a little kid looking up to the counter, reaching out to take my book home. Sometimes we can — and should — relive our childhood.
I just pre-ordered a Nexus 7 tablet, so I am already wondering if I will move to reading only e-books. I think that the convenience of an e-reader will be nice, but I think that I’d like to not lose that sensation of holding a book in my hands; not to mention the child-like thrill of going to the library.
Do you have a library card? If so, do you actively use it?
Though just about every company is trying to grab some of Apple’s tablet mojo, it’s no secret that Amazon’s seven-inch Kindle Fire, which is powered by Android, was the target. It was recently reported that Amazon is expected to release an updated Kindle Fire tablet at the end of July.
As the name would suggest, the Nexus 7 is a seven-inch tablet. It will run Android 4.1 (Jellybean), which was also announced today. The Nexus 7 will come in two memory configurations — 8GG for $199 and 16GB for $249. Here is a short video from Google about the development of the Nexus tablet.
If you’re interested, here is the introduction of the Nexus 7 at today’s Google I/O keynote.
Check out Cnet’s recap of some of the new features in Android 4.1 — Jelly Bean.
Not wanting to be left in the dust by Siri, Google has make significant enhancements to its voice commands. (It’s worth noting that the voice commands on Android devices was already pretty good.) Incorporated with the Jelly Bean OS update will something called Google Now. Here is Google’s teaser video.
Now, for a more practical, real-life perspective, check out The Verge’s walkthrough of Google Now on the Nexus 7. He even finishes with a comparison of Google Now and Apple’s Siri.
The Google Play store also received an update. The big news is the availability of magazines, TV shows, and an expanded library of movie titles.
I spotted a review of the Nexus 7 by Josh Topolsky this morning on The Verge, and thought that it would be additive to this post.
I have been thinking about picking up a tablet for a while. I thought about the iPad, but started to lean away from it only because I will likely buy a MacBook Air. That left me thinking that I would probably fare better with a seven-inch tablet. I must admit that this is a shift for me. I originally thought the seven-inch tablets were too small — kinda like a paperback book compared to a hard cover. I’m hard cover kind of guy. With that said, though, I think the size and weight of a seven-inch tablet is more conducive to what I’d use it for — reading books, magazine articles, and quick browsing. This is something that I’d likely carry in my messenger bag. At 12 ounces, it’s much lighter than the 1 1/2 pound iPad, Galaxy Tab, or upcoming Microsoft Surface. In this size category, the Kindle Fire was at the top of my list, but I’ve been hearing rumors about Google’s tablet for months. Asus makes good hardware, but, quite honestly, it is the Nexus badge on this tablet that tipped my hand. As soon as the Google Play store was updated today, I put in my pre-order for the 8GB Nexus 7. It is scheduled to ship mid-July. Of course, I will definitely be back here with a “first impressions” piece, and follow up with a more substantive review.
What about you? Are you in the market for a tablet? Does the Nexus 7 pique your interest? Let me know in the comments.
Given my recent exit from social media, I’ve been reading a number of pieces about the subject. If you know of a good piece on exiting social media, or examining the explosion of social media use in our daily lives, please share a link in the comments.
Body and Soul — Dexter Gordon
I love diggin’ in the crates as much as anyone to find some nice music. Music Monday (#musicmonday) is really a social media creation. Since I am no longer on social media, it doesn’t really make sense for me to continue. If nothing else, doing away with Music Monday frees me up to post music on Monday, or any other day, for no other reason than I love music. With that said, and since you’re here, allow me to share a non-Music Monday groove by Vicki Anderson and Bobby Byrd (a cover of a Bobby Womack classic) that I really like. Enjoy!