Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rambling: Reading and Not

I posted before about joining the 100+ reading challenge, which is a challenge to read one hundred books in a year.

I'm behind. Way behind. What's the deal?

I've always read a lot of books. As a kid, for years and years and years, we went to the library every weekend. I'd check out at least five books, and generally have them read before Monday morning. Then I'd re-read them, or read the books we owned, or check even more books out of the school library.

In adulthood (I've posted all of this before, haven't I? Oh, well.) I did almost the same thing, except it was often the used bookstore rather than the library. Buy five or ten books, knock them off in a week or two, and every few months sell back boxes of the ones that I read, enjoyed, but didn't need to keep.

I was doing that up into a least part of last year. I can tell from the boxes of books waiting to go back - I have an approximate idea of when I read them.

But lately... I've stopped.

I haven't stopped reading altogether. There's always a current book, but it's generally a frequently-read old favorite, and I read a few chapters and put it down. I've largely stopped reading new-to-me books from beginning to end.

I know where the former reading time is going - it's going to the Internet. Where I used to read books, I'm reading blogs and forums and websites. But I've been reading blogs and forums and websites for years, and writing on forums for years. So I don't think that the extra Internet time is the cause, it's the effect.

So, I need to figure out the cause - not because I'm failing the challenge, but because I love reading and don't want to find in a few years that I somehow inexplicably gave it up. As, now that I think of it, the rest of my family seems to have done. They rarely read.

Is it something totally prosaic like the need for a better reading chair or a good pair of bifocals? (OK, "progressive lenses", but the nicer term doesn't make my eyes any less old.) Is it something Deep and Psychological? Is it the blogging, the main Internet-related change that tracks the reading slowdown fairly closely?

It's a puzzlement. But meanwhile, I'm going to post this and go pick up a paperback.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I'm a big reader too (I'm on goodreads if you happen to go there at all) - but there is no way I would ever sign up for that 100 books thing. I do have a friend who's doing it, but she's single and doesn't have a TV at home! LOL

    Some of my fave childhood memories is going to our local library - and in the summer, I would prop my feet up on our brick porch railing while sitting, reading, drinking lemonade and eating saltines.

    Blogging and everything else we do in life sure does seem take time away. I read every night, and have been going to bed around 9:30 so I can get a good hour or so in before I really have to go to sleep. But still that's not enough.

    A few months ago, I babysat for friends of ours, and I read a whole book in the evening! Quite proud of myself, I was.

    Oh those youthful days of being able to do nothing all day but read!

  2. I too have been an avid reader all my life and have experienced the slowdown in reading commensurate with the amount of time I spend on the Internet either reading blogs or writing posts. I'm beginning to recognize the obsessiveness of it all.
    Another area that's fallen off is my gardening. I'm probably as avid a gardener as I am a reader, or at least I was. Whether this turn of events is brought on by blogging or ageing, I don't know. What I do know is that I need to step back and give it a good scrutinizing.
    Here's a thought: If you're like me, you probably don't like to be tied to someone else's deadline (100 books a year) and are secretly, in your heart of hearts, staging a rebellion.
    Or not :)
    You have given me good food for thought. Thanks.

  3. I don't think there's anything wrong in reading stuff on the internet, rather than actual book. No shame. Unless it's porn ;)
    Internet reading is just a different format! I think it can be just as valuable and stimulating. Reading is reading. Just because a blog isn't 'War and Peace', doesn't mean it's not worth it...

  4. Haha this is going to Be a rather interesting read. Good luck. Thats ALOT of reading.

  5. I'm all for a challenge, but 100 books in a year? That's more than 8 books a month!

    I would find it hard to believe that anyone could read that many books monthly and actually absorb what they're reading. Speed-reading isn't of much use if you're just racing to finish.

    I did a lot of reading in my early 20s. I was a regular visitor at the Provincetown Bookstore near where I lived on the Cape. But even then, I read about 1 book a week, or 4 a month.

  6. I used to do that when I was a kid. Won the library's 'top reader' award every summer for years - it was nothing to knock off 5 to 10 books a week. The other kids hated me.

    With everything going on in life these days, I'd say you're joining a rather large group of, now, lesser-readers. I had to deal with it by making bed time an hour earlier each night just so I could read for that hour. It's much, much less than I used to, but I had to make sure I read something from an actual book, as opposed to internet reading, every single day. You might find you'll have to schedule daily reading time in somewhere - and stick to it.

  7. hmmm. I am a big reader, and always have been too, though there was a year in my life, about 5 years ago where I could barely be bothered to read a magazine. I chalked it up to being frazzled and my brain needed a break from intensity, and sure enough one day I picked up a book, a simple read, and pop, I was back to reading like a madwoman. Buck up camper, it'll be back.

  8. Hey, Frida! The TV is no problem for me - I actually have no trouble reading and watching TV and, say, cooking at the same time. :) But now I use the Internet and watch TV and cook at the same time.

    Ah, yes, I remember essentially reading all summer. It was wonderful. Now that only happens on vacation, and only if I'm away from the computer. I'm planning on spending a lot of vacation days in the computer-free park this summer.

  9. Howdy Christine! That is an interesting point about the deadline. The reading slowdown started before the Challenge, but that's not to say that the Challenge isn't making it worse. Certainly, feeling pressured to Read The Whole Book is annoying me.

    My gardening has slowed down, too, but I assumed that that was because the garden is Full. But it may be the same thing that's slowing down my reading.

  10. Kyna! Yep, I agree that there's nothing wrong with reading the Internet - there's a lot of stuff that's first, best, or both on the Internet. But I also don't want to stop reading books; I think that the Internet/book balance is getting unbalalanced.

  11. Howdy, Mr. Trolah! Welcome to the blog! Yeah, it's more reading than it looked like at first. :)

  12. Yo, Connecticut Blogger! It is a lot of books, but I'd say that I used to read well over ten books a month, without rushing at all, so it's disconcerting to find that I'm rarely finishing any books at all.

    They're generally not serious, "chewy" books - they're usually fairly lightweight fiction (most often murder mysteries), so I don't worry about absorbing the material, just about enjoying the story.

    I do read pretty fast, plus I used to read _all_ the time. While eating. While walking to the store - I can easily walk and read and not trip and kill myself. :) While cooking and doing dishes - I prop a book up on the counter. While doing housework - again, I prop the book or I sweep and spray-and-wipe one-handed. In the lunch line. In the grocery line. In the bathtub. And so on. :) Used to be, if I wasn't working or driving, I was probably reading.

    In fact, maybe one solution would be to take more reading-walks. Even I can't type on a laptop and walk at the same time.

  13. Hiya, Tina! Yes, I remember being puzzled at the idea of being _required_ to read one book for a book report every few months. The issue was which of the dozens and dozens I'd read, to write the report about.

    Yeah, scheduling sounds like a good idea. Oddly, I really don't like reading in bed any more - I read half a page and want to sleep. But I could go with the walking strategy that I thought of above, or go out for lunch and read there, or something.

  14. Hey, Jess! Hmm. That's also a thought. There is some weirdness going on in my life right now, and maybe something about it is driving me toward blogging and away from reading. It does definitely seem to be making me less tolerant of any but the most "easy to eat" reads - I'm not even interested in the fat murder mysteries in any more; I seem to only read the fluffball ones.