The digital world has become so engrossing that David L Ulin finds it difficult to focus and read a book—not a good sign when you're the editor of the Los Angeles Times book review. "The encroachment of the buzz," from hours of emails to inane rumors across the Web, has made it more and more difficult to settle into the paces of reading. "Reading is an act of contemplation," he writes, that is growing ever harder to master.
Surfing the web is the opposite of reading, since instead of contemplation it privileges "an odd sort of distraction masquerading as being in the know." In digital space reacting to information is more important than thinking about it, while books insist that readers slow down and immerse themselves. In a way, writes Ulin, reading in the digital age is returning to a form of meditation—a removal from the world as it is, "with all of meditation's attendant difficulty and grace."