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Still prefers a paperback to a smartphone

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July 22, 2014 | 11:03 AM
I have always been a bookworm. A bibliophile. A book lover.

I love the way a hardcover book feels on my lap. I love the way a paperback feels in my hands.

You can find me frequently at the library, with one finger on the spines of books as I walk down the aisles.

I judge books by their covers, their titles, their author photos and their cover art. I’m right about my prediction on liking a book about 95 percent of the time.

I like fiction and nonfiction equally, biographies and current events along with mysteries and dog memoirs.

I carry a book — or two — with me nearly everywhere. And until the last few years, I’ve never hesitated to pull out the book when I’m waiting.

Lately, I’ve been getting some weird looks when I crack open a book. It seems a lot of people are judging me by my need to have pages between my fingers.

At the dentist office, I pulled a book from my bag and received a questioning look from a nearby patient.

This fellow patient’s face seemed to ask, “Don’t you have something-like-work to do on your smartphone?”

Well, sure, there’s news to read that I can access on my phone. There’s Facebook to check. There are cat videos to watch.

But then there are books. There are words that someone thought were so important, so good, so thought-provoking, that the words were immortalized in print.

Those are the kind of words I like to read, and while there are better places to read than a dentist’s office, there’s nothing better to do while waiting in uncomfortable chairs.

When I realized that patient had given me a look, I shifted in my seat and moved my book, and once again it was just me and the written word.

It’s impossible to get lost like that on a smartphone.

A book doesn’t ding when someone else wants attention. A book doesn’t flash when it needs recharging. A book doesn’t change daily. There are no feed updates missed if I can’t read for a day. I just pick up where I left off.

In Thailand, a coup d’etat in 2013 removed a corrupt prime minister from office and put in place strict no-protest policies enforced by the military. In May this year, protestors took to the street anyway — to read copies of George Orwell’s “1984.”

According to the South China Morning Post, one man was arrested by police for reading the book.

Of course, in the United States, conditions are more favorable for reading in public. There are park benches that seem to be made for sitting and reading. There are little free libraries popping up around town, and there are public libraries in nearly every community.

So where are the readers?

According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of high school seniors who read at or above the proficient level has declined since 1992.

I’m not a reading specialist or an educator. I’m just a reader, and I know that reading makes a person better at reading.

According to Read Faster, which sells literacy programs, the average reader who reads 15 minutes a day will read 1 million words a year.

While I’m committed to reading whenever I get the chance, I don’t have any dramatic goals about trying to read all the books at the Lake Geneva library.

I do have lists of books to read, lists that grow much faster than I can read.

I just love a good story, and I’m not about to put a book down because I get an odd stare.

Bolack, a Regional News reporter, is currently reading “Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story” by Evan Schwartz.


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