Martha Thomases: Yup. Still Reading!

I’m celebrating San Diego Comic-Con this week by reading some new comics. As you may remember, Constant Reader, this is something I try to do all the time.

Last week, among the new titles I picked up was Calexit, which caused varying political outrage because people thought it was a commentary on Trump (maybe it is!) but I liked because it reminded me of two of my favorite movies.

I also bought Skin & Earth, which is apparently based on a music video and I didn’t even know that was still a thing, unless you are Beyonce and you rule the universe.

Anyway, I liked these titles, but they are both the beginnings of multi-part stories and I don’t feel like I have enough insight yet to say anything pithy about them. If, from these columns, you think we have similar tastes, you might want to check them out.

I’ve also been reading some old comics in a different format. I missed a few titles at my local comic book store that I wanted to read, so I downloaded them onto my iPad. At the same time, I read two prose books on paper, something I have done rarely since falling in love with my Kindle, nearly a decade ago.

Reading is weird.

One of the things I like about reading comics is the act of turning the page. A good creative team knows how to play with this physical reality by pacing the story so that there is a cliff-hanger every time. This doesn’t have to be life-or-death on every page. Sometimes one character asks a question and the reader doesn’t discover the answer until the page is turned. Sometimes the story demands a two-page spread, so there is one less page to turn.

Using my finger to swipe the page is less suspenseful. Of the comics I read, there were no two-page spreads. There were also no ads until after the story finished, so I was never taken out of my fictional world.

And the colors! The colors glowed!

If I had wanted to, I could have manipulated the size of the panels, changing the way I perceived the page. I don’t want to do this. Now that I have the giant-size iPad, I don’t have to do this to be able to read the story.

The backlit screen on my Kindle Paperwhite is one of my favorite features. It means I can read in bed without a reading lamp, so I don’t have to turn anything off to go to sleep. My absolute favorite thing about my Kindle, however, is that it’s a compact, lightweight way to take dozens of books with me everywhere I go. It even fits in my purse!

Hardcover books don’t do those things. Hardcover books can be heavy, and I can’t adjust the size of the type when my eyes get tired and I want bigger print. Hardcover books require me to move my arms, a lot.

With all of this, I had forgotten the very real, physical pleasures to be had sitting in a comfy chair with a heavy book in my lap. I had forgotten how grounded this could feel. It made what I was reading feel more important, perhaps because they were non-fiction.

There are people who think one format is morally superior to another, and I am not one of them. If you like paper, read paper! If you like electronic books, read electronic books!

It was delightful to switch it up for a bit. More than ever, I know that there is no way to read or buy books that I don’t like.