I listened to a very good broadcast featuring Dr. Maryanne Wolf, a neuroscientist, that attempted to explain the “jumpiness” and anxiety some of us feel when reading a novel in print. Wolf even mentioned to herself that she attempted to read a book by Hesse (500 pp. in length) that she classified as challenging, while she wrote Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. She wanted to recreate the feeling that Digital Age adults (and perhaps children) have when reading print after all of the Tweets, Facebook updates, and other Internet reading ephemera that require you to jump around in a different fashion of sorts—zig-zagging you across the page instead of a stead left-right/slightly down motion of a mental typewriter.
Wolf couldn’t stand her favorite Hesse book after the first chapter. And she already knew the contents! What she learned – and what I had previously discovered – is that it took her a couple of weeks to retrain her brain to be book-friendly. When I return to my studies in the fall, I always have a pile of books to read, and it takes me a little while to get “into the groove” of reading without being distracted.
Here is the transcript from Here & Now.
Here is the embedded conversation with Dr. Wolf. It is a delightful conversation: