signal value

The signal value of reading

The signal value of reading

August 9, 2020
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For me, ”doing nothing” for the past month has, to a large extent, meant doing nothing but read. 20 books later, I got to talk about reading with Caspian the other day, speaking about the signal value of seeing someone read a book, rather than knowing they read (most commonly before falling asleep, I assume) but never actually seeing them with a book.

Both my parents read, read a lot, and read whenever there’s a possibility to read, not just before bedtime. And that’s been true for as long as I can remember. My grandparents also read, all of them. My aunts, my cousins, my siblings. We read. It’s simply something we do. (My mom says that once I learned how to read, I never stopped.)

But what Caspian said made me realize that today, when there are so many other ways of reading a book than to actually be holding a physical book –audiobooks, Kindle/ebooks–, I wonder at the signal value of it all. If I’m listening to a book (using my headphones that is), no one knows. I might as well be listening to music or a pod or whatever. And if I’m on my phone/iPad/computer reading an ebook, well… no one knows either. It looks the same as if I am scrolling SoMe, flicking thru the latest headlines in an online news site, or watching something on Netflix. If I’m on an actual Kindle, perhaps someone makes the link, knowing what a Kindle is and what it looks like, but I’m not sure everyone does. (That’s not true. I am sure not everyone knows what a Kindle is/looks like.)

Now, I love the physical book, because the kinesthetic value of it enriches my reading experience. I retain a physical sense of knowing if passages that stick out to me were in the beginning, middle or end of the book, on the right or left-hand page, if it was at the top, middle or bottom of the page, as well as being able to feel how much of the book remains. I love that. Am happy if people are reading books though, regardless of the medium.

But the signal value of it… that one has me puzzled. Perhaps I would not be reading as much as I do if I hadn’t seen my parent read all the time? Or if they had read in other ways than the very visible and easily spotted physical book?

What about you, who were your reading role models? And are you one?


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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