Routine Remix: How I Learned to Love Reading on an iPad

And why I never thought I would.
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And why I never thought I would.
iPad Routine Remix2

If you work in close quarters with a small team, points of tensions are pretty much unavoidable. For example, Emily loves a potato chip above pretty much anything else, while I couldn't be less interested in a bag of Lay's; she's a big fan of Jordan Rodgers, while I'm Team Wells; and she swears by reading books on her iPad while I love a physical book. Any time she'd tell me about a book she read and loved on Overdrive, an app that allows you to borrow ebooks from many libraries for free, I'd respond by buying the hardcover version.

After trying and failing to read a book on a nook years ago, I couldn't be convinced, my primary reason being that you can't completely lose yourself in an e-book the way you can in a physical book. But then things changed literally overnight. 

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One evening, I came across a book online that looked so interesting I immediately bought it on Amazon and received a link to download a preview onto my iPad. After finishing the 20-page sample in what felt like two seconds, I cancelled my order for the paperback, and purchased the e-book. By late that same night, I'd finished the entire thing. It was the fastest I've finished a book in recent memory. The next day, I applied for a library card and downloaded the Overdrive app—I've been a total convert ever since. 

That's not to say that I'd download every book on an e-reader. There are some classics that elicit a completely different feeling when you pull them down from the shelf, and there are countless valid arguments for physical books: It's important to support independent bookstores, you can pass them onto friends, there's evidence that you absorb fewer details from e-books than physical books. But, to me, the practical benefits of reading from an iPad outweigh those of reading a physical book in most circumstances and have helped me fall back in love with reading. In the past week, I've read more books that I had in the previous month. Here are a few reasons why I love reading from an e-reader:

1. It's easier to read in the dark.

Once I'm in bed reading a book, anything between reading and going to sleep feels like a chore, down to turning off my bedside table light—as a result, I often stop reading earlier than I want to, just to get it over with. On iPads and most e-readers, there's an option to make the text white and the background black so that you can read without lighting up the entire room with bright-white screen. 

And while I assumed that the blue light from the iPad would wake me up even more, I've actually found that the fact that it enables me to read in a completely dark room makes me feel even more relaxed than if I had my bedside lamp on (plus using apps like this one or the "Night Shift" setting can help minimize blue light).

2. You can own and start any book instantaneously.

With so many means of instant-gratification available, it's easy to take it for granted, but it's amazing to be able to see an interesting-looking book online, and have it in your hands within seconds. Many apps also enable you to download a free sample before buying the book, so you can read the first chapter before purchasing it (of course, this will never replace the joy of leafing through pages at a bookstore, but it's a convenient alternative when I'm already home, or don't want to make a trip to the store). 

3. It tells you exactly how long you have until you finish the book.

Many e-readers are equipped with the ability to "learn" your reading speed, so they can provide you with an estimate of how many hours and minutes you have left in your book. To me, this is a huge incentive to read more and read faster—when I have 75 pages left, it feels much more doable when put into the perspective of "one hour left." My iPad even tells me how many minutes I have left till the end of a chapter, which my boyfriend's developed a love-hate relationship with. A now-routine conversation we have goes something like this:

"When should we start making dinner?"
"7 minutes and 22 seconds!"

4. You can read from anywhere.

Among my top criteria for buying any purse is, "Can it fit a book?" Especially when I lived in New York and took public transportation daily, I always had a book on me, but books are bulky and often heavy (I almost ruined my back the month I read Gotham). With e-books, I'm able to download the Kindle or Overdrive app on my phone, and open any book to the last open page on my iPad. While I don't love reading on my phone, it's more entertaining than stalking a wedding hashtag on Instagram (my second-favorite pastime).

5. In the Kindle App, you can see what other people have highlighted. 

Most e-reader apps include annotation abilities, so you can "highlight" or "dog-ear" a page or section, and several allow you to see what other people have highlighted. In the Kindle app, popularly highlighted portions appear as a subtle dotted-white line and, when you hover over it, it tells you how many people highlighted that portion on their own e-readers. It calls out important or particularly well-written sentences I may have otherwise glided over, but the social aspect is my favorite part. It feels similar to the experience of listening to a song on the radio and knowing that other people are singing along to the same song. 

That being said, e-readers also remove an important social reaction. I love when I'm reading a book and someone recognizes the cover and tells me so—it's such a small, but meaningful connection that isn't possible with an e-reader. (Again, the privacy of an e-reader can be seen as a plus if you're reading something you don't want other to see you reading—romance e-books are some of the most popular.)

6. You can hover over a word to define it. 

As I was reading my book, I came across the term "Mexican Wave," and had a feeling the author was referring to a classic, sport's arena "wave," but had never seen "Mexican" affixed to it. I clicked on the term and, within seconds, learned the etymology of the "Mexican Wave," and that, while it was invented in Oakland in 1981 (and popularized by the University of Washington), most of the world saw it televised for the first time during the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico World Cup. Who knew? If I'd been reading a physical book, I likely wouldn't have paused to look up the term. 

Of course, this can be seen as a negative if you have a difficult time re-focusing your attention, since an internet search can easily lead down a rabbit hole and far away from the book you intended to read. If this is the case, simply switch it to "Airplane Mode" and read away! Side note: I've deleted all social media apps from my iPad so I'm not tempted by an incoming text notification or Instagram feed.

7. It leads to less clutter.

Remember when I mentioned pulling a book down from a shelf to read it? To be honest, I can't remember the last time I've actually flipped through a novel to re-read my favorite parts. I love having books in a bookcase, but at this point, I have so many that they're overflowing onto my coffee table and piled in a corner next to my couch. As wonderful as they are to own, I don't really need more books. Reading on an iPad helps me keep my collection of books in check.

8. It's more affordable, easier, and green.

Outside of the fact that e-books usually cost a few dollars less than their physical counterparts (not to mention the price of gas and parking to get to the bookstore, or the cost of shipping), it's also incredibly easy to download them for free from your local library if they offer the Overdrive app. Once you secure an e-card, the app allows you to reserve books in advance, and even request books they don't have, so you can always have your favorites in your queue—and you'll never lose a book or forget to return it! And if you're an avid reader, e-readers are better for the environment. Downloading 20 books balances out the carbon footprint of producing the reader versus the books. Win-win!

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I'd love to hear: Do you love reading books on an iPad? Hate it? Has this inspired you to try it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

P.S., I use an iPad since I use it to watch shows on the treadmill, and for travel, but there are tons of other great tablets out there—here's a helpful list to find one that works for you.