At Curves last week, I puffed and panted alongside a seventy-nine year old woman. She’s very active, intelligent, and looks about ten years younger. We’re both avid readers and often discuss books, mine and other authors’ works, films, and TV shows. (Yes, I know. I’m one of those annoying people who talk while they exercise…but, it’s Curves. Okay?)
The woman told me she’d heard other members talking about my books and had visited the Palm Desert library. She found they had shelved one. She borrowed it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and wanted to know how she could purchase more. They aren’t stocked at B&N. She didn’t know about print on demand. Then she went on to say that because she walks several miles a day, and at a moderate pace, she had taken a liking to audible books and listened as she exercised. Almost 100% of her books were audible. After reading my book in print she recognized something interesting. She hadn’t read a print book in years, no longer had newspaper delivery, seldom read a magazine, and most everything from entertainment to news was gained from the computer, or television. She claims there is a difference, a huge difference, in reading in print.
She’d been forgetting how to spell some words. She also said she’d started to forget what certain words really meant, but seeing them in print had made her think. She had also, once upon a time, been an avid worker of crossword puzzles. At her age, she had figured this loss of word recognition must be due to age, perhaps a few too many senior moments, and something she had to accept. Now she’s convinced it’s because she’s out of the habit of seeing the words on a page.
That is definitely something to think about, as we’re all getting older. Or at least, I am. We need to maintain our reading skills. I do a lot of reading on eReader and I’ve found that I don’t sink into the story as much as I do when reading in print. I don’t retain as much information about the book. I remember the author’s name and the title better when it’s a print book, because every time I pick the book up I look at the cover. There are times I’ll be on Amazon and think that I should leave a review of a book I read two days before, and then I can’t recall the title, or I get the author name confused. I never do that when I’ve read a print book.
Is that because of how the eye scans something electronic as opposed to reading it in print, on paper? Do we perhaps read electronic books faster? Or is it just that we learned to read everything on paper as youngsters? I know there are very smart young people today who learn almost everything on electronic devices, and their memory for detail is fine. I have no clue about any of this, I’m merely thinking out loud. Also, my reading experiment had nothing to do with one book being better or worse, or less engaging, because I’ve compared re-reading my favorites in print with re-reading on eReader while travelling. Yes. Yes. I’m one of those readers. There are several books I re-read for comfort almost every year.
What do you think? Could there be truth in this woman’s observation?