While I never seem to get enough time to read these days — and perhaps part of that is not making it a priority over other forms of entertainment (games, movies), I do squeeze some reading into each and every day in a variety of ways. In fact, one thing that I’ve noticed is that in 2022, we have so many more ways of reading books than when I did as a kid or younger adult.
As someone who’s availed himself of each of the main types — audiobook, print, Kindle e-reader, phone, and computer — I started to think about which one was “best.” Or, at least, best in a certain situation. So let’s look at each of these and see if there’s a winner.
With the rise of technology in the field of book reading, there’s a not-insignificant crowd out there that swears by print and print alone. And I’ll admit, there is something about the tactile feel, look, and even smell (yes, smell) of a printed book that you can’t get with any other option. They also look really nifty on a bookshelf, especially if you have a nice selection of hardbacks.
For me, however, hard copies are not my favorite. They’re bulky and not always pleasant to hold (either using two hands or one that has to do some extra muscle work to keep the pages open). They also can be easily subject to damage. I only buy physical books for church work and study, as I do enjoy going through my commentaries every week for sermon prep.
I’m a huge fan of Audible and leap on every discounted sale that they do, having racked up around 130 or so titles in my library. The marriage of a great author and a great narrator can create an amazing experience that lets me “read” a favorite book in a new way. Audio books also have the benefit of fitting into little slices of my day — meal prep, commuting, biking, walking — that let me do double duty. The downsides here are that audio books take longer to read, don’t allow you to easily see names for that ever-important recall, and are expensive if you don’t find sales.
This right here is my preferred reading device since I got the second generation model back in the day. As a lifelong reader, I LOVE the Kindle for its ultra-portability, the adjustable font, the easy-on-the-eyes screen, the backlight, and the ability to store thousands of books on a device that’s lighter than my phone. Downside? It’s a single-purpose device that I have to make a conscious effort to bring with me where I want to read, so sometimes I’m hunting around for it or don’t have it at my beck and call when I’m somewhere else.
The Kindle app on the phone was the first way I ever interacted with this platform, and while I don’t use it that often, it’s kind of nice to have as an ever-present option. I changed the way I read books from flipping pages to scrolling, since scrolling feels natural, and I can get in a few pages here or there. People don’t really think anything of someone staring at their phone these days, so it’s not obvious I’m reading. Downside? Small screen, harder on the eyes, not usually something I think about.
OK, this is a weird one, but it comes up from time to time, so I’m including it. I have the Kindle app on my laptops and, yes, it comes in handy on occasion. Usually that occasion is “stuck in a meeting where it’s OK for me to use my laptop and I only need to half-listen anyway.” So there’s a way to read books. It’s OK. Definitely not the way I like to sit back with a novel, but the way it syncs across platforms makes it an option.
This is a purely subjective call, but for me it’s a mixture of Kindle and audiobook for about 90% of my weekly reading, followed by some print and light phone usage. I usually end my day in bed reading for a half-hour with my Kindle in the dark, and that really helps to calm me for sleep.