Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
The Deep Dive

The Internet Did Not Ruin My Reading Life

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

S. Zainab Williams

Executive Director, Content

S. Zainab would like to think she bleeds ink but the very idea makes her feel faint. She writes fantasy and horror, and is currently clutching a manuscript while groping in the dark. Find her on Twitter: @szainabwilliams.

I’m trying to be better about removing my rose colored glasses before I look back. I take comfort in nostalgia, but I don’t want to become someone who automatically thinks that the way things were done “in my day” were better simply because they’re gilded in good memories.

I know I’m susceptible to the sentiment that the internet boom ruined X, Y, and Z, and the reading lifestyle has a tendency to inspire a Luddite’s romanticism in book lovers. Picture the dusty shelves, the steaming cup of tea, the stone hearth warmed by a crackling fire, the complete absence of tech. I admit that I started writing this essay intending to focus on the joys of discovering books and authors without the white noise of the bookish internet and social media prescribing my next read. First of all, that’s hilarious considering what I do for a living but, also, I remembered to remove those glasses.

As I rubbed my eyes I was revisited by a somewhat embarrassing anecdote from my bookish youth. This anecdote flies in the face of my impulse to decry the internet a menace and points to how it could have greatly helped in this instance. It tells the story of how I chose Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy as my summer reading selection for 10th grade Honors English (I’ll have to save my rant about the ridiculous expectation that a 15-year-old independently reading that work would gain anything from it).

Book cover of The Divine Comedy

I own matching volumes of “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso” gifted by a friend who has more faith in my ability to pick up archaic doorstoppers than I do. Multiple times I’ve considered a reread—not that I actually read the thing once the whole way through and not that a “reread” was ever going to happen—but mostly they serve the purpose of reminding me of this summer reading anecdote and forcing the question, What the heck made me choose that book in the first place?

This time, I followed the breadcrumbs to an answer I suspected would shake me up. My journey follows:

Leave a comment

Become an All Access subscriber to add comments.