Mine eyes have seen the glory of reading on paper

New Year’s resolution: Read more books. I don’t mean books on screens, which I do read. I don’t mean audiobooks, which I listen to. I mean books printed on compressed cellulose, a medium that can give you a paper cut.

The goal is not to force more reading. I read all day long. It’s to get off screens. My digital subscriptions for news are on screens. Social media are on screens. And, of course, I read on screens what I write on screens.

This resolution was made at a recent 4 p.m., the time my eyes routinely writhe on a Sahara of dehydration. Electronic screens reduce tear production. The blue light emitted further stresses the orbs. Such is my typical schedule that something gets streamed after dinner. Happens just about every night, and it doesn’t matter whether the televised series is “The Crown” or “Deadly Women.”

Some e-readers, such as the Kindle Paperwhite, boast screens that go easier on the eyes. I love the device for that and several other reasons. It allows for word search. It lets me download piles of books that I can take on trips without straining any tendons. And it removes the burden of finding room for books that have become dated.

But even the e-reader is not the same as a paper book. There always comes a time when you lose your place or want to go quickly back to reread something. The process of returning requires additional thinking. It’s far less taxing to go back to the part of a book where you left your finger.

Convincing studies confirm that reading comprehension is better when the words are on paper. The physical act of turning pages and sense of touch while holding a book can enhance engagement and memory. There’s less distraction. Nothing in a book flashes, “Look over here!”

On this topic, do you know where your attention span went?

As a source of information, video can be time-consuming. The average English speaker tends to put out no more than 150 words a minute. The average reading speed is about 200 to 300 words a minute. Thus, reading can be a more efficient way to cover the material. And if you’re trying to master a difficult concept, “the rewind” on a paper book is a lot easier.

Question for older people who were raised on old-fashioned books: Are they a giveaway for one’s advanced age? Would you want to be caught turning pages at a hipster bar? In other words, are paper books not cool?

The answer is they are way beyond cool. They are lit.

Bloomberg reports that members of Gen Z are making TikTok videos about books that are shot in bookstores. And new bookstores are opening in the neighborhoods they frequent.

There’s a phenomenon happening from Brooklyn to Oahu called “reading parties.” They take place at bars or coffee shops, in parks or on roofs. The mostly young participants read their dogeared paperbacks for, say, two 30-minute periods, then talk about the books.

Could I sneak in?

Books have long provided what sociologists call third places — that is, hangouts that are neither work or home. Both bookstores and libraries fill the bill. These third places provide company and a sense of community. If you think that an hour of quiet reading isn’t a big draw, consider: One New York bar charges a $10 admission fee per reading session and has 270 people on its waiting list.

These reading groups now have Instagram accounts and viral Tiktok videos. Imagine: Social media whose goal is to get you off social media.

Well, 4 p.m. is approaching. Time to log off.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at [email protected].