Going old-school with books

Published 9:44 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Reading is an activity that fills my heart with joy. It has been that way for me since I was a boy. For as long as I can remember, my life has been deeply and wonderfully enriched by good books.

When e-readers began to appear in the late 2000s, I was very slow to jump on that train. I have always enjoyed getting new books, holding them, and, yes, even smelling the pages. So a traditionalist like me was pretty hard to win over to an e-reader.

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But around 2010, I got my first Kindle, and I was immediately enthralled. Electronic books were cheaper, but it was more than the price. I genuinely enjoyed the experience of reading my Kindle.

I didn’t have to flip pages, or even turn on a light in the room. The technology was new and cool.

Over the years, I kept seeing articles by other voracious readers, explaining that they found themselves veering away from their e-readers, and back to traditional books. These tended to be people who had gone to e-readers a few years before me. Frankly, I couldn’t relate to their experience … at the time.

But now, after seven years of lots of electronic reading, I am finding myself making the exact same journey. More and more, I am going back to traditional books. No one is more surprised at this than me. So what happened?

One thing is that for Christmas I got an ESV Reader’s Bible. This is a special six-volume edition of the Bible that contains no chapter headings or verses. It is beautifully designed, with great attention paid to every detail. The layout and even the type of print and paper are designed to relax, and draw the reader into the text for lengthy periods of time.

I don’t use it in preparing my sermons, which are based on specific chapters and verses. But for my own edification, and for reading large chunks of Scripture at a time, it has been a special blessing.

So perhaps the pleasure of spending so much time reading a non-electronic Bible has had something to do with my migration back to books.

But there are other reasons, too. I’ve found that traditional books are less distracting. When I’m reading on a screen, I’m far more likely to jump to the Internet, check email and so on. Reducing my “screen time” has been nothing but a blessing.

Also, it is easier to go back and look at notes and review certain sections in traditional books. Even the sight of books on the shelves evokes warm memories of the time I spent in that book.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against e-readers. I plan to still use mine sometimes, like when traveling or just reading lighter fare.

I’m all for anything that will help people read more! If an e-reader helps you read more and watch less TV, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.

But I need less screen time in my life. Going old-school with books has helped me relax and be more peaceful in my reading.

Whatever you use, whether an e-reader or traditional, my encouragement to you is to reduce your television, Internet, and social media time and stimulate your mind and heart with good books.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.