Reading a book is a harmless activity and is very possibly worth encouraging, no?

I’m reading one at the moment – a history of sound and listening called ‘Noise’ by David Hendy, the University of Sussex’s Professor of Media and Communications.

Last night I was intrigued by a sobering suggestion, from the pen of American author Garret Keizer and quoted by Hendy, that our pleasure comes with a price. When we read, we cradle in our hands

“an object that has generated huge amounts of noise in its manufacture, noise that is experienced by other people in other places: those working as loggers in the forest or living near a distant paper-mill or next to a distribution depot rumbling with delivery lorries”.


So reading is a quiet way of passing the time, but it’s also a form of noise displacement. We read (for pleasure) because we want some downtime, but that means creating din and disturbance for someone else in some place we don’t think of thinking about.

Although Hendy doesn’t use this term, he’s implying that the avid reader has a ‘high bookprint’, the sedentary equivalent of a carbon footprint.

Attempts by people and states to lower their carbon footprint work rather worse in practice than in theory, because industrial production is simply shifted to another country, with the resulting goods then imported. So perhaps we should at least spare a thought or two for those unknowns, whoever they may be, compelled to coexist with polluting papermaking plants.

reading a book in hammock