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Of Books and Brains

June 26, 2016
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(This was originally part of yesterday’s post, but it became too long to have any place there.)

Given that one of the things The Star Host is about is connections between brains and technology, it seemed appropriate to think about the fact that I do occasionally read ebooks now, and about my brain and technology.

One of the things that my (most likely, but not diagnosed) depression took away from me was the joy of reading. Books felt like a chore, having to concentrate, having to always get to know new characters every time I started a new book… it was all exhausting.

Which was how I found myself reading fanfiction of pretty much everything I’d ever read or watched, so I wouldn’t have to get used to new characters for every story. And then, absurdly, to read fanfiction of things I didn’t even know. And that was still one of the more intelligent pastimes, because a few of them were really good stories. (Much better than the whole nights that I somehow spent on youtube, or days reading sites like Not Always Right or god knows what else I did. The things I remember were the more intelligent ones. I know there was other stuff that was just mind-numbingly stupid, but I couldn’t find the energy to do anything else.)

Even now that I”m enjoying books again, my brain still seems to associate books with “exhausting”, and anything read on a screen with “easy entertainment”.

And the more time I spend on the internet, clicking from thing to thing, hopping around from short texts to pictures to videos to whatever, the harder it feels to focus on a longer text.

None of which actually makes sense, because there are books that are easy to read and don’t need a long attention span, but I’ve also spent hours and hours focused on a long fanfiction, and ignored my bedtime because I wanted to read “just one more chapter”.

(And too many times I finished it and thought, “What the hell did I just read, and why?”, but there were also a couple that made me wish they were actual books that I could buy and put on my shelf.)

And it turns out that sometimes, the way to trick my brain into reading books is to read them on my laptop or phone, so they look/feel more like something easy and non-exhausting.

I still don’t like ebooks, though. I still feel like there’s something missing when I can’t physically touch a book.

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To really enjoy a book, I need to enjoy it with all senses. I can’t do that with an ebook.

The whole fanfiction thing also connects to The Star Host in a different way, because it led to getting to know some new… people who exist in that awkward space between “friend” and “acquaintance”, where the languages I know just aren’t nuanced enough. Which led to reading about Interlude Press, which, as I understand it, is a publishing house founded by fanfiction writers, for fanfiction writers, publishing original stories with LGBT characters.

And while they’re never really books I feel like I have to read (most of it is too heavy on the romance for my tastes), sometimes those not-quite-friends-not-quite-acquaintances share discount codes that mean I can get books for a couple of dollars from the IP webstore, and sometimes I find a book that looks like it has enough magic to interest me. (And since they don’t ship internationally from their own store, and going through Amazon or local stores would mean passing up the discount, I have a couple of ebooks now.)

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Alice deGrey permalink
    June 27, 2016 10:56

    That reminds me… I sometimes read ebooks on my iPad now and when I do, it’s usually in bed next to my nightstand. Which usually has 2-4 books lying on it. So I still smell books even though I’m reading ebooks which is pretty great! But yes, the distinctive smell and feel of that particular book is lost.

    Interlude Press sounds interesting! I’ll have to check them out now.

    • June 27, 2016 22:09

      That’s a good solutiion for the smell. But for me touch is probably the most important, and that is less easy to solve.

      I hope you find something you like from IP – I’ve been meaning to talk about them for a while, because I think it’s a pretty awesome thing, but it was all so tangled up with all that “what the hell did I just read for five hours straight, why am I doing this, why can’t I stop?” and the shame and frustration over that, that I found it difficult to talk about any of it.

  2. June 28, 2016 03:32

    Don’t feel bad about spending time reading junk. I think sometimes the brain needs that. Maybe it’s like somewhere in between doing something and doing nothing. As for books feeling exhausting maybe try reading in really small doses, just a chapter or 5 or 10 pages at a time. Or, if you’re looking for familiar characters, maybe reread something you know you love to ease yourself back into it. Most importantly, go with whatever works best for you in the moment, and don’t judge yourself regardless of what it is.

    • June 28, 2016 05:39

      I am doing better now – no longer so reluctant to get to know new characters, and I can read on the train again instead of just falling asleep. But it’s still difficult to let go of my habits and get back to reading at home, too.
      Stupid, tempting internet.

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