Of course there is 阅读, which specifically means "to read" and satisfies the prosodic preference for disyllabic words. However, if someone asked me what my brother was doing in the back of the car, I would never say "他在阅读“ as that sounds very formal to me (though this might just reflect the kind of Chinese my 老外 parents taught me). Even if I didn't know specifically what kind of media he was reading, I would probably say 他在看书. Perhaps he is reading an essay, or reading posts on a stackexchange, for example.
Is it appropriate to use 看书 in this way, as a general term for reading when the material being read is unknown?
Am I correct in feeling that 他在阅读 is overly formal?