Saturday, January 10, 2015

Books books books

Well, I've been through a full course of antibiotics (Zithromax! When you have to nuke the ick from orbit just to be sure!) and I'm still hoarse and hacking, although it seems to be fading away... too gradually for my tastes, but at least I'm getting better.

Also, all the time spent in bed over the Christmas holidays meant lots of opportunities for uninterrupted reading. I've finished off five books since Christmas and am reading four more. As I get older I'm finding it easier to zigzag between several books at a time. When I was younger I had a hard time reading several books in tandem, especially if they were all fiction; the narratives had a confusing tendency to blend together in my head. These days I've figured out the secret: read books with disparate themes, and throw at least one nonfiction work into the mix. There's no danger of mixing together the texts of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Jenny Woolf's The Mystery of Lewis Carroll and Michio Kaku's Physics of the Future; even though they're all nonfiction, they're different enough in subject matter (memoir, biography, future predictions) that it's easy to keep all the texts separate in my head. Which is good, because I'm still a little woozy from the NyQuil.

Speaking of woozy, a random thought which occurred to me while reading: why are most printed books published in portrait format (that is, with pages taller than they are wide)? Why don't we have more square books, or landscape-printed texts (most image-saturated "coffee-table books" are printed in landscape format)? Does it have something to do with the way our brains process the written word, or is it cheaper to print that way, or does it have to do with the way printers used to fold a sheet of paper to make folios and quartos, or is it just "the way it's always been done"? The format is being perpetuated on e-readers such as Kindle, and it makes me wonder why we do it that way.


Stephanie Burton said...

Glad you're on the mend :-)

Interesting thoughts about book shaping. I'd never really considered it, but maybe portrait orientation books are easier to hold? Landscape might be too wide and flop! As an experiment, I tried orientating my Kindle 'sideways' while reading. It feels odd, presumably because I'm so used to 'upright'.

Soozcat said...

Thinking a bit more about it, I suppose landscape print books also lend themselves better to showcasing images -- where your eyes can look over the entirety of the image, resting on specific spots as desired and not necessarily in a linear fashion -- and that the shorter lines of portrait-printed books are probably easier for the eye to follow in an orderly manner while reading. If a printed line of text gets too long, it becomes difficult for the eye to pick up your proper place each time you "reset" at the next line.

That still doesn't explain the lack of square books, though. Hmm.