Why I'm still reading books
As a kid I liked reading books a lot. But that was due to limited access to screens. When I went to college and had access to a smartphone and a laptop, I started binge watching TV shows all the time.
You might make the argument that books are of higher quality than movies. That movies are watered down. Sure, a lot of movies might be low-tier. But there are enough critically acclaimed movies or TV shows to fill up all your free time. At the same time, there are a lot of bad books just as there are bad movies.
So what are the reasons I am still reading books?
When I read a book, I am focused on the book. I can't afford to be distracted lest I lose the narrative. It is for this reason that books slow time down.
Compare this with watching something on Netflix. It is very common for me to whip out my phone in case I feel the scene is boring. There is no time for the mind to rest, or to be bored.
When I am reading a book, the author comes halfway, and I go halfway. The book forces me to use my imagination to draw up characters - modern media however, manages to do everything for me.
Another reason I read books over watching movies is if the content I am consuming is best adapted to text. And a lot of content is best adapted to text.
At this point in time, I think video has not yet caught up to books, I don’t know if it ever will. A lot of books have been made into movies. Rarely some of them turn out to be good adaptations.
It also follows that a lot of things just cannot be converted into video format. For example, a book with a lot of abstract concepts can be very difficult to adapt. Can this article be adapted into a video version? Perhaps. But would it provide any more value than the text version? And even if it did provide more value, who is going to put all the effort and resources into adapting it?
Books require a lower amount of effort from the writer, half of that effort gets transferred to the reader. This means that the “activation energy” for writing a book is much lower than that for producing a video. That makes it difficult for a lot of good content to be properly adapted to screens. It follows that you will find a richer collection of ideas and stories if you go looking around for books.
As an example, you can consider the adaptations of Dune.
Adaptations of the novel to cinema have been notoriously difficult and complicated. In the 1970s, cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to make a film based on the novel. After three years of development, the project was canceled due to a constantly growing budget. In 1984, a film adaptation directed by David Lynch was released to a mostly negative response from critics.
A second film adaptation directed by Denis Villeneuve was released on October 21, 2021, to generally positive reviews from critics and went on to win six Academy Awards.
So, those were the two reasons I could come up with.
The serene, slow, and rewarding exercise you get to experience while reading books since they require some effort from the reader as well.
The fact that books require a lot less to produce, can convey a lot more types of concepts, and that they’ve been with us for a longer time resulting in a much larger corpus of rich content.