ABR: always be reading.
This is something that’s been really difficult for me to stick to, and I know why. I suspect it’s a common problem.
It’s never been easier to always have a book with you. If you have a smartphone, you have a platform on which you can run Kindle or other ebook applications. You can always have a book, or thousands of books, with you, ready to read at a moment’s notice.
So why don’t we do it?
It’s trendy to blame everything on social media, but I’ll put it in a slightly bigger context that I think pre-dates social media: our attention spans were already shrinking. Social media came along and exacerbated the problem.
The result is that rather than reaching for a book, we reach for our phones and start surfing social media feeds. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or something else, the bite-sized dopamine hits are so easy to come by, and self-reinforcing.
Grabbing a book, or firing up the ebook app on your phone, is more of a commitment. It requires more patience, and a longer attention span than we seem to have available these days.
We’re been trained to consume content in small bites, not the larger quantities in books.
And yet, the content we consume in those small bites(*), like junk food, does little good for us in the long run, and can even hurt us. Continuing to shorten our attention span is just one way.
The solution? Read a book.
Always be reading a book.
Have one with you. Fire up Kindle instead of Facebook. Make the choice to reach for your e-reader instead of your phone. Make the effort to carry a physical book with you if you have to. But always have one within reach.
And then make the commitment to consume that content rather than your social media snack food when you have free time.
Choose books that engage you — you don’t have to read something you don’t like.
Maybe switch it up between fiction and non-fiction, or have a couple of books going at the same time. Make sure that what you’re reading is not only something you enjoy and gravitate towards, but worth your effort to invest the time.
“Long form content”, as they like to call it these days, is almost always more valuable than the bits and bites found elsewhere.
Social media has its place, but let your book reading be the default state you return to. Train yourself if needed to make it happen.
You’ll benefit also from increasing your attention span again for other things as well.
(*) Yes, I’m aware that these essays qualify as “small bites”. I hope they’re not junk food.
2 thoughts on “On Reading”
As we get older (I’m 82) reading book books becomes more difficult for some of us. The free Kindle Version 1.37.0 software runs well under Windows 10 for example, is free, and easily obtainable free books allow minimal scrolling on a laptop, depending on your vision requirements and Kindle settings. The point is numerous hardware and software solutions exist to make Leo’s suggestions easily implementable and practical for most situations.
Your essays are superb, and certainly not “junk food”.
Thank you for writing.
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