Not everything is meant to do at the speed of light. Reading for enjoyment is one of them.
When I saw news of a new reading app —Spritz—the other day, I couldn't help but shake my head with a "Those young whippersnappers ..." kind of disappointment. All I could think was, "Why?"
According to the Washington Post, "Spritz is a Boston-based start-up devoted to making reading easier and faster. Its focus is on-the-go reading. Words flash rapidly, which helps hold the attention of readers. Our eyes are naturally drawn to movement and change. Plus, because words are flashing faster than the rate most people read at, we should all be able to get more reading done."
So, great. You can get more reading done. But did you comprehend it? Did you enjoy it?
As Time.com points out, with Spritz readers can finish Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in less than 90 minutes. Great, but what's the point of reading for pleasure if it feels like you are sprinting to the finish?
I found CEO Frank Waldman's analogy of Spritz as that of running on a treadmill versus being outside especially illuminating in how off the mark it is. He says,
“You go out on the road and you have to watch out for road conditions, weather conditions. It’s up and downhill and much harder to do,” Waldman said. “When reading on the printed page, I feel distracted by all the others things around it. I have to swipe and swipe and swipe. It’s not as easy as settling in and having words stream to brain.”
The hell? Most runners live to run outdoors and would sooner give up the sport than choose a treadmill over an outdoor route. Outdoors is fresh air. Outdoors is nature's beauty. Part of the enjoyment of running is connecting with nature, not a machine. And it can be harder, which makes it that much more rewarding.
I'm not a robot. I want to actively participate in reading. I want to turn the page, swipe the Kindle, whatever ... and have the opportunity to stop and THINK about what I am reading. I don't want words to just pour into my brain without any chance to pause for comprehension, or even just emotion. How many times have you read a story, stopped, and either closed your eyes or held the book to your chest to let the emotion from the page just wash over you?
And kids, my God, the kids! In the wake of those insane Fisher-Price iPad toys comes the Spritz. Why bother reading to your baby or child when the words can just "stream to brain." I weep for the future. One of my most precious memories, no exaggeration, is when my oldest son was first able to read Green Eggs and Ham aloud to me. It was hard, Mr. Waldman. It was A LOT of uphill. And so incredibly worth it.
I get it—Spritz could be the savior of high school and college students everywhere. Maybe. Comprehension when reading for academic purposes is just as key, if not more so, than reading for enjoyment. But with all that speeds by in our lives—with remote controls and DVRs, smartphones and laptops, express lanes and fast food, shouldn't there be one activity in your life that forces you to slow down and relax? Well, besides a massage.
I love books. Obviously. And I read them without any app-assistance. If you'd like to know what my latest fave is, Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
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