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Is Writing About Books Bad for Reading Books?

This blog is called "Technology and Learning" - but maybe the word "Books" should also appear in the title. I write about books because I live so much in my head, and the books that I read form the mental scaffolding of my life. Some people learn by doing, I learn by reading (and writing). And I want to hang out with other readers. I want to know what other people who live their lives at the intersection of education and technology are reading. I want to read the same books as you, and spend time talking about what we are reading together.  

February 29, 2012
 
 

This blog is called "Technology and Learning" - but maybe the word "Books" should also appear in the title. I write about books because I live so much in my head, and the books that I read form the mental scaffolding of my life. Some people learn by doing, I learn by reading (and writing). And I want to hang out with other readers. I want to know what other people who live their lives at the intersection of education and technology are reading. I want to read the same books as you, and spend time talking about what we are reading together.   

Writing book reviews in this space has been great. The act of writing the review helps consolidate my thinking and understanding about the book. Discussing books on this platform is even better. I get many of my leads of new books to read from you, and I am much more likely to purchase (or borrow) a book that someone from our community recommends. 

Sometimes the author of a book that we have discussed will send me an e-mail of thanks, messages that I cherish.

For all the benefits of blogging about books, I am also starting to see some possible negatives:

Limited Book Diversity: I'm only really interested in blogging about books that I think that you will also be interested in reading. This means that I will blog about books that relate in some way to our jobs, to our work in education and technology (and maybe publishing and business). Almost always nonfiction, most often in the genre of popular academic writing (or books by academics aimed at a non-academic audience). This results in reading less fiction. Over my vacation last week I read The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. Amazing book. But I almost chose not to read this book because I can't quite see how to justify kicking off a discussion on IHE. Blogging about books equals less diversity in my reading diet.

Only New Books:  I read and write about recently published books because those are the books that people are currently reading and talking about. A book that is not getting reviewed in print or online, or discussed in social media, feels significantly less valuable. This means that if I miss a great book during the year that it is published than I'm much less likely to read that book in the future. Forget used book stores, and even reading library books becomes more of a challenge. This all adds up to both a more expensive book buying habit, and many wonderful books not being read simply because they are not newly published.

Audiobooks & E-Books = No Book Sharing: Blogging and participating in other social media discussions about books is a great motivator for reading new books. The only way that I can read enough books to build any sort of momentum around online book discussions is to read while multitasking.  And that means reading audiobooks. I listen to books all the time. While commuting. While doing dishes.  While shoveling or cutting the lawn.  While running, walking, and sometimes skiing. You will find me at sporting events listening to my books. Why doesn't everyone listen to audiobooks?  I can't figure it out.  My e-book reading has also increased, mostly because I love having my book synced to whatever screen I happen to be in front.  I end up doing lots of reading on the Kindle app on my iPhone.  Reading in short chunks, whenever I have a few minutes free to read a few digital pages. The dentist office, in line at the grocery store, waiting for a meeting to begin. If a book is not available in audio format it is unlikely that I will read it.  Sharing e-books is almost impossible.  I really miss being able to pass along my books to friends and family.

Are you combining your social media activities with your book selection and reading activities? What do you see as the pros and cons of combining reading with participation in social media around books?

What are you reading?

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