Strain on Eyes or Trees?

Since I have midterms coming up next week, the impending doom of what those tests (and anxiety) might entail, my reading has certainly slowed down from past month. Another key reason is that it keeps snowing (cough, Spring, you can show up any time now…) so it’s near impossible for me to make it to the used bookstore I love.

Although there is an avenue I have considered to help in this dilemma, except my own preferences get in the way. I’ve tried to do the whole ebook thing. I’d love to be able to do it. My eyes just do not appreciate reading from a glowing screen for hours.

I already spend so much time in front of a computer or phone screen, reading is my little escape from the technological overload to wind down and feel like I’m not just wasting my mind away to mush. Yes, this is legitimate concern for me.

And especially knowing the big environmentalist that I am, you’d think I’d be all on board for more ebooks. Not only do they save trees from succumbing to the publishing industry, ebooks are cheaper to begin with and you can usually read them from multiple devices. Heck, if a book is old enough to be free domain, you can just read online for free, no questions asked.

Yet I still cling to the idea of holding a book in my hands, flipping the pages to see how long a chapter is, judging my progress from the depth of a bookmark. Reading is an experience, and having a slim little device takes away all of that joy.

Call me dramatic. I should just appreciate the literature and writing itself that I’m reading. But I truly do feel a difference in my interest and retention of what I’m reading when comparing the two scenarios. If I have technology in front of me, usually it’s not to read. Having your eyes staring at a YouTube video or TV episode is very different from reading.

Obviously people have preferences. If you have young people who don’t like reading in the first place, ebooks are a great compromise. For others, me included, the screen results in visual fatigue. Plus, especially for those who enjoy reading before going to bed (a great option for people with sleep problems. Again, I fall into this category), the artificial light transmitted from the screen will have the reverse effect on sleep.

When it comes to college textbooks, I prefer finding them online, which seems counter to everything I’ve said thus far. Yes, I retain way more information with a paper copy, but textbooks are also ridiculously expensive. Regular books can be very expensive too for what they are, too, but you have to find where the deals are: used book stores and thrift stores.

I already talked about the used book store I stumbled upon a short walk away from my university, and trust me, the prices would make any college student giddy. Plus, it eases my sustainable mind knowing that the system is recirculating titles already in print. My books can go to a good home, and I can find some unique books myself.

If you’re into the idea, of course there is always the library. Don’t ask me why, but I’ve never been big on libraries. Is it because I don’t like feeling like I have a strict deadline to enjoy a book? Or is the building just too eerily quiet for me? Who the heck knows, but despite my immense love for reading, it has never really appealed to me. Obviously if you aren’t as picky as me, it’s a great option. Just listen to Arthur and grab a library card.

So the premise of this post: you can still be sustainable whilst enjoying the sensory experience of reading. It’s easier to say we aren’t attached to such nostalgia and can enjoy the latest technology in literature, but if I can still have a peace of mind while having a growing stack of books on my desk, that is my go-to. That stack is a representation of my love for reading, a visual way to show the progress and knowledge I’ve gained. An ereader, no matter how advanced, will never have that same sense of accomplishment for me. Maybe I’ll try reading some classic novels online to get used to the idea more, but I’m stubborn in my ways. I say if this is the one aspect of life I can at least modify, find a middle ground between very wasteful and very efficient, I gladly will.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie


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