My sister read a lot of books while she was pregnant, which I associated to my nieces’ love for books starting at 18 months old. These young babies can’t even understand the words we tell them yet but they insist on flipping pages of books already! One of them would even cry when we take the book away since she has literally flipped the book front to back and back to front multiple times.
I had the same unusual love of books when I was younger and I’m still very fond of recalling most stories I have read despite my reading comprehension not being high back then. Many times I find it fun recalling scenes or the multiple story arcs that shows the characters’ growth. These are ingrained in my mind that is why when I read through some classics again I am surprised to find vitality that allows a refreshing new image of scenes and characters. Other times, the recollection of scenes and characters were congealed.
Now that I have been living in a different country with a totally different language for the past six years, there is still a craving in me for books and stories in English. Previously, the local public library back in the US were accessible but due to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) I have since lost access to my account. I tried to find other means and finally gave in and asked for a Kindle for Christmas. The result: I still prefer the page-flipping, pencil-marking, paper-smelling experience that you get out of books. Kindle is now mostly reserved for vacation or long trips since it is lighter than 2-3 books that I would often take with me.
The future of novel reading?
What has kept me occupied (and somewhat satisfied) lately were these open source library of English-translated Asian novels online found at Novel Updates and Wattpad websites. I also use the Webnovel site, which has an accompanying phone and tablet app, which provides a variety of novels that are either translated Chinese novels or original submitted work. There are many more of these open source libraries out there.
Although the book experience I mentioned earlier is missing, the perks of having a variety of novels almost for free is quite satisfying. Comprehending the new world, culture and country just makes going through several novels exhilarating. What does disappoint me in this is that there are no specific regulation on plagiarism. In fact, this type of novel reading promotes it with the rise of fan-fictions. Furthermore, readers get to comment on each chapter leading to many spoilers added and not so tasteful ones that doesn’t promote further reading of the novel. Webnovel requires payment either through `stones´ or cash to access further chapters.
Supply and Demand
In conclusion, there is a demand out there for a good variety of stories and many who are willing to supply it via original works or translations. These online novels allow readers to have a certain interaction with each chapter along with their fellow readers. In the end, my preference still lies on published books than the readily available novels that don’t go through editors. However, the open source have allowed me to read original works that many publishing house have overlooked.
Ann Morgan gave a presentation at TEDGlobal London back in 2015 regarding her one-year challenge of reading a book from every country, which you can watch here. You can also see the list of books she has read on this site.
Another special TED presentation mention is “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichi, which she presented at the TED Global 2009 can be seen here.
Both of these TED talks provide a beautiful illustration on how we should approach modern story reading, as well as challenge ourselves to keep an open mind on having a difference perspective in viewing our world.