A note on reading, technology and mental illness

I posted yesterday about Amazon's Media Library — which I believe could be a great back end to a very cool Silverlight project and that led to a comment on the volume of my reading. I started to write a response but once you get me started talking about reading… well I thought I'd indulge in one more blog post during the gentle moments before Mix.

There have been a few amazing changes in technology that have significantly affected my reading (though I admit I was always a serious reader — see note below on reading and mental illness.)

It started with Books. Remember books?  I bought 'em by the truck load, back when Barnes and Noble was a single store on 18th Street and if you wanted a book you got on the train and went and bought it.

Then came Books On Tape which was great: rentals I could listen to in the car (though I still felt compelled to buy printed versions to look at later).  I started listening to in the early 1990s . They went out of  the retails business just as I seriously got into The Teaching Company Lectures, which has gotten better and better over the years (Click here  and then on Lectures, for my recommendations).

But the big break through was Audible (the Platinum deal is great; I buy 4 a year)


In the past 2 years I've bought a few hundred books from Audible. I love Audible. Wish they gave green stamps. Digital is so very much better than tapes. Especially digital that remembers where you are in the book. Or books. Gotta' be able to read more than one at a time.


You really want more than one book with you at a time.

And who can remember where all the tapes are?

Audible is one thing, but what gave it enormous power was the iPod , er,  ah the Zune, yeah, the Zune.  

Here's a picture of my Zune. (See, it says Zune right on it)

Love my Zune. Got the 80 Gig. Ran out of room on my 8.




Sometimes you gotta' read.

Kindle3 Then there's print. Now, I still like reading, but books are heavy (and I fractured my shoulder in December, which quintupled the weight of every page. And remember, I have ADD, which means I like to be reading a few different books so I can switch off every ten minutes. Long flights require at least 3 books, usually more. And a couple magazines. Heavy. Also, I hate waiting for books to arrive from Amazon. Who can wait two days? That's crazy.

Thank God for the Kindle Here's my ungrateful review.  (Some people are never happy). 

Right now I have 7 books on the Kindle (including Bleak House, which is big) and three newspapers and 18 pdf files. And it remembers where I'm up to in each one. I love that.  I've used about 5% of its memory and all of my book budget.  The screen is wonderful and late in the day I can make the font bigger for my tired mddle-aged eyes.





Reading and Mental Illness

When I was a kid I had serious social skills problems (I'm sure you're shocked!) and, having no friends,  I used to read 7+ books a week through junior high. I still read quite a bit.  To tell you more than you want to know, I have an interesting combination of OCD and ADD, which means that I'll buy and  ~20 (or 100)  books on a subject before I get bored (the positive aspect of obsessive-compulsive disorder) but I need to be reading 5-7 different books at a time, switching among them (there's that ADD) and the Kindle makes that affordable and possible as I can have numerous books with me at any time. Wonderful.

I typically have 3 books (okay 7) on the iPod, half a dozen on the Kindle and another half dozen I'm in the middle of on paper.

That plus newspapers, blogs and magazines and I'm a happy guy.  

The device I really (really) want is one that lets me read (like the kindle) then switch to audio when I have to put it down, then switch back to reading. But that's asking a lot, so I'll give it a few more years.

There Ain't No Parity

We say, but we don't mean it, that mental illness is just like physical illness. Nothing to be ashamed of. But we're lying. We want to believe that. But we don't. .

 Few of us  hesitate to say "yes, I have high blood pressure" but we sure don't go around saying "I have OCD" even if the OCD is under control and the hypertension isn't.  Why is that? The result, by the way, is that the average time from onset of symptoms to beginning of treatment for OCD is 17 years (in my case, more like twice that). 

Microsoft is a wonderful company, with fantastic benefits, but like almost every company and state in the US, its Mental Health benefits are not quite the same as its physical health benefits. I get why, but they're still not.

Finally, we spend a lot of time saying things like "I don't want to take those medications, then I won't be me" but again I don't hear people saying that about Lipitor (for cholesterol) or their anti-hypertensive's. Turns out that the SSNRIs I take had just the opposite affect; they removed the overly anxious grump who was always getting me into trouble and let me alone. Might not be much, but its much quieter.

Okay, we now return this blog to your regularly scheduled technical obsessions.

[PS: The graphics on my blog have been too ugly lately. I'm working on it. May have it licked.]

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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