Random Thoughts

Books are good too

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My wife and I just finished the 7th and final Harry Potter book this weekend and all I can keep thinking is…this is why books will never go away.

I’ve been accused of being a hater of books from time to time. I push the digital, digital is what I do and therefore it is what I preach. Nevertheless, reading a book everyday to my students is what I miss most about being a classroom teacher.

I have never been much of a reader. I struggle at it; I’m slow at comprehending and most of time I end up reading pages twice just to follow along. There are very few books that I have finished from cover to cover and many that have been forgotten a couple chapters in. My wife and I have read the Harry Potter series aloud together. All 7 books…in cars, in bed, on planes and beaches. We’ve finished them together.

…and there is something about books. Something that movies do not capture, something that gets lost when you are reading in digital form. There is something about flipping pages, about reading in different comfortable positions that you just cannot replicate.

I do love audiobooks and listen to more books than I read (being an auditory learner I guess that makes sense). Audiobooks and my iPod is where most of my books are read.

I am not a book hater, I am a digital lover. My RSS reader is my book, making me think, making me ponder, and allowing me glimpses into the lives of those I read. I’ve read more in the past 3 years in blogs then I have read my entire life to this point. Some might say that is sad…and it is, but I find it exciting that I’m actually reading, actually making the time to sit and enjoy a good post, or a good reflection. Digital is my media, this information is what I love. I understand it’s not for everyone, and I understand that magical power that a paper book holds.

But I continue to push the digital…that is my job after all. I’m excited about e-books, e-paper, and ubiquitous access to information. That is my book…that is what I love…that is what I do…and that I believe is the future.

I don’t hate books….I just like digital media better.

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. It’s possible to be both – I have been a bookworm all my life. For my English final, I submitted a reading list of 300 books (read over 2 years) and was very proud of myself… until I discovered that my mother’s final reading list for her English final had been closer to 600. My Afrikaans reading list was a less impressive 30 books over the same 2 years.

    In my summer holidays before my second last year of school, I read 30 books in 6 weeks. Read? Devoured!

    However, I was reading in much the same way as I watch movies…for pure entertainment and escapism. I wasn’t trying to study, to learn anything, to do anything, to achieve anything (although of course, I learnt a miscellany of things of varying degrees of importance and usefulness in the process).

    I haven’t yet encountered a 2.0 technology that does that. Not that I want it to, I hasten to add – the two things just serve such completely different purposes in my life.

  2. Pingback: University Update - Harry Potter - Books are good too

  3. Jeff, as a teacher-librarian, I too should be a book lover. But oddly enough, I prefer digital everything! This year at school I am going to suggest a test of sorts with a teacher who has some really weak readers. I want this class to create an account with an RSS reader, and then get the kids to subscribe to feed of their interest (that are not bocked…hopefuly). I want to pre-assess and then post-assess their skills in reading to see how much they improve. I really believe reading skills skyrocket when we read things we are interested in.
    Another confession–I hated the library as a student, yet I grew up and became a librarian. Go figure.

  4. Jeff – I loved to read growing up. I’ve never been much of a tv or movie person. I just started reading “The World is Flat.” I’ve found that I read more for information than entertainment these days. More excitingly, I’ve discovered that reading my rss blogs is like reading the newspaper every day! Saturday morning I get up, fix my breakfast and break out my laptop to catch up on everything I haven’t read! I love it! Digital is great too!

  5. My son can relate to your preference for digital media. This summer he has to read two books from a list of twelve selected by the English department from his HS. How did he choose which books? He went straight to the end of each book to see how long it was and how much text was on each page. Topic was secondary.
    He HATES books and reading (because of his reading difficulties) but spends hours on the computer, watching youtube, listening to podcasts, playing. He is born in the right century, the digital century, which taps into his strengths and helps him to feel more successful as a learner.
    (I myself am ambimedia – print or digital – I devour them both!)

  6. Jeff, I think it is great that you read the books with your wife. Reading is reading wherever you read it, and whatever text format you chose, a book, a blog, an article, it is all good. I believe the more we read the more we want. That has always been one of my goals for my students, finding that one book or article that catches their interest. Once you have that they find themselves wanting more. It doesn’t always happen when you want it to. Some of us become hooked on reading at an early age and others get hooked later in their years. Whenever it happens it’s OK so long as it happens.

  7. Caitlin Colins Reply

    Hi Jeff,

    I found your post very interesting seeing as I hope to teach English in the future. When I was first introduced to the idea of technology in the classroom, I was totally against it, especially for a literature class. I felt as though using technology would take away from the overall experience and connection with a piece of literature. However, as I began to think about it more, I realized that students could actually benefit from the use of technology in a literature class through possible live internet conversations with various writers or theorists. By using the internet, teachers can open new possibilities in literary analysis and discussion. I agree with you that attempting to curl up with a laptop to read an e-book does not have the same effect as reading an actual book. I also realize the numerous advantages technology in the classroom possesses as a possible resource for students who may not particularly excel in reading but still would like to experience literature and participate in class activities. Some of the most important things are for a student to be able to think critically, contribute, and ultimately come away from a class knowing that he or she has excelled. If it takes technology to accomplish this goal, then I should definitely be more open to using it in my future classroom.

    -Caitlin Colins

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