Social media and technology site Mashable has grouped together “8 Apps to Make You a Better Reader” – and not just concentrating on e-reading, but also bringing in some apps that will be just as helpful for print reading as well. If they help. Because the premise for choosing some seems the exact opposite of making you a better reader – i.e. making you a hastier and less insightful reader by predigesting and dicing up your reading matter.
As Mashable’s Mark Knoblauch says, the article has been “trying to stray from the obvious reading apps, like e-readers.” And yes, as well as obvious choices like Goodreads or Dictionary.com, there’s also apps that could not only enrich readers’ choices or word hoard, but also help them to actually read faster and more accurately. For instance, speed reading app Syllable, doing what was done with a plastic frame and a clockwork slide when I did my speed reading course. Or Lumosity, ” built to improve your memory, focus and general brain function. If you do well in your training, you might find improvements in reading ability and retention as well.”
However, there are others that are less about building concentration. For instance, Longform. “Do you like apps like Instapaper, Pocket and Read it Later, but hate having to find the content yourself? The Longform app has curated longform articles for you to read at your leisure,” states Knoblauch.
And then there’s Audible. “If you absolutely can’t find time to pick up a book, open up a reading app or keep your eyes focused on one thing for a prolonged period of time equal to or greater than 15 minutes, there’s the audiobook. Audible, an Amazon company, has the premier audiobook app, host to over 150,000 titles,”notes the article. It doesn’t mention Audible’s high-pressure knock-on sales drive, which made using the app a huge pain when I had it, but perhaps Audible has moved on under Amazon’s tutelage.
Still, that’s two of the eight apps in the selection that are premised or presented around having less time and attention to read. If you accept that Instapaper is something of the same, then it’s three out of eight.
If you believe Stuart Jeffries over in The Guardian, this is not even a problem any more. I’d certainly hope so. And I’d rather see apps devoted to teaching slow reading, along the lines of slow food. Because being force-fed ersatz prepackaged pulp on the assumption that you’re too busy to either prepare or digest well is bad enough for your stomach. I can’t imagine it’s any better for your brain.