Maybe it’s because we’re all living a hectic urban life, but I cannot count the number of friends who have sheepishly admitted that they haven’t read a book in a long time.
They’re reading more magazine articles or spending more time on Twitter or they’re addicted to Dots.
We are now walking around with mini-distractors in our pockets, things that are beeping at us and alerting us and giving us endless opportunities to check our e-mail repeatedly like a nervous tic.
Personally I’m reading more books for pleasure than I ever have, mostly thanks to that little distractor. I can whip out my phone and read anywhere I have a spare second, and then retreat to an iPad when I’m at home.
Are you reading more or less than you used to? Are your reading habits changing in the smartphone era?
Art: A Study for “Paradise Lost” by Mihály Munkácsy
Matthew MacNish says
Definitely reading more, but SAH not on a backlit LCD. I spend 8 hours staring at one already. I read on a dinosaur of a Kindle Keyboard, and I love every eye-strain-free minute of it.
Esther Spurrill-Jones says
This is a tough one for me. When I was growing up, I used to read a novel every couple of days (I'm a very fast reader), but when I was in uni, I hardly read anything that wasn't for a class. Today, I read on my Kobo or on my phone, so I read a lot again. I voted "About the same," but if I were comparing now with my uni years, I would have voted "More."
I'm reading a lot less because I'm writing a lot more.
One of my many Creative Writing teachers in college warned us against reading while we were actively writing.
He gave us the Parable of the Snails: "The French keep fresh live snails in terrariums prior to eating them. Several days before they plan on cooking the snails, they stop feeding the snails. The French dribble a little wine in the terrarium and then stop."
The metaphor is always lost on someone and they ask why.
"Because no one wants to eat snail poo in their snail. Not even the French.
"What you are reading will influence your writing. Give yourself time to purge between reading and writing to ensure the voice you write is authentically yours."
I go through phases for a few weeks where I'm devouring books, then phases where I get caught up in writing or work or other general life things and don't read as much.
I just got my first "smart phone" about five months ago, but it isn't nearly as much of a distraction as I thought it might be. After playing on it for a few hours, it gets kind of boring for another few hours.
And BTW, that's the darn truth. When I was reading Franzen while writing my current WIP, my crit group kept saying, "What's with all the back story on the minor characters?"
Your data might be skewed if you're asking your blog readers–I'm guessing most of us fall into that "super reader" category. Since I started writing fiction a few years ago, I read double, and in some years triple, the number of books I used to read. About 10 years ago I was dumbfounded to see posts on one of the message forums I frequented about the 50 Books A Year Challenge. Who could read 50 whole books in a year?! Turns out, I can. It just takes turning off the TV or ignoring friends and/or family for more frequent chunks of time. I don't even keep up with my magazines and blogs as much because I'm reading.
D.G. Hudson says
Reading more or less is a fairly open-ended question. It's easier to read some ebooks than to read literary novels. So, reading more of 'what' might be a better determining point.
'Distractors' may help some read, but most users don't take the time. Social media is a Pied Piper of sorts.
Stephanie Allen says
I read way more books than I used to, mostly because I'm not in college anymore so I have a lot more time to read books for fun. (I guess I did read a lot of books in college as a history major/English minor, but those weren't by choice so I don't count those.)
Ginny K.M. says
Call me the world's youngest old fogey, but I still have a dumbphone (by choice). I feared what would happen to me if I had a mini-distractor (great term) in my pocket at all times. It's the same reason I don't have a fifty-pound bag of gummybears in the house: the temptation would be too great.
That said, I know I'm going to cave one of these days. I'll need to figure out how to live with the constant temptation.
But there is something about a book that I don't think can ever be replaced … that sense of being lost in something that is a discrete world unto itself. I doubt I'll ever lose my need for that.
Zan Marie says
I'm reading more, much more, since I got a Kindle. It's just so convenient. ; )
I read a lot more than I did a few years ago. Partly I credit the convenience of the nook and partly I credit the fact that my toddler takes a long nap now!
Suzie F. says
Definitely reading more, but I don't own a smart phone. Most of what I read comes from the library even though I now own a Kindle.
Michael Runyan says
I am reading less than I used to, because as a kid I read like crazy, but now as a college student time can always be challenging. Not for any lack of trying, I just have to put my studies first.
Since I've started working, I read less than ever before. When I was in k-12 and college, I inhaled books. Working leaves me exhausted and the time I've always dedicated to reading is increasingly consumed by sleep.
That said, I still read more books for pleasure than most people I know. But a book every 3-4 weeks is a snail's pace for me.
Kate Scott says
I hate to admit it, but I often find myself playing games on my phone during my train commute instead of being one of those happy reading commuters. Your pole is only making me feel more guilty about it. Thankfully, I did start a great new book this morning that I fully plan to read the rest of during my ride home.
Stephen del Mar says
The more I write the less time I have for reading. What I mostly read now is about publishing and writing, then back to the keyboard! 🙂
Jennifer R. Hubbard says
I go through cycles of reading more and less; right now it's more.
I might dabble in games or puzzles from time to time, but they can't hold my interest for long. I always come back to reading.
My wife bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Father's Day this year. My reading shot up a million percent.
Wing Wife says
I'm reading more and a more eclectic mix of books since I got my Kindle in 2007. I find being able to browse wherever I am for books and download samples frees me to try books I wouldn't have–and I carry all 1800 of them in my purse.
Rich Amooi says
WAY more! My goal os one book per week and I have been doing pretty well over the last six months. Love it!
Sandra Stiles says
After one of the most hectic years ever at school this last year I needed the down time. I am definitely reading more books and loving it. I have my phone, my kindle fire, and of course a bookcase with physical books.
The tricky thing is that I'm reading less – but it has nothing to do with smartphones or tablets or anything like that. I'm just busy. I work. when I'm on break, I work. When I'm at home, I work. I have student loans that never seem to go away and other bills and birthdays and so much crap that eats up money like there's no tomorrow. And my work is at bookstore and then freelance writing, so after a while it's like reading can feel like more of the same even though it's not. And when I'm not doing either of those, I'm trying to write for *me.* So…yeah. Not as much as I would like.
Having said that, I did just finish reading Warm Bodies for the second time and Girl, Stolen about two days before that because I was getting irritated about how little I get to read. xD
I love the National Library of Singapore. They are so well stocked, have such incredible service– delivering books i reserve within 3 days that I find myself reading way more than before I came here. Add a Kindle into the mix, and I'm a happy customer. I read upto 3 books a week 🙂
For me – there's no comparison. I used to have such a hard time finding books at all. I never knew what books were out there, and half the time the bookstore didn't stock them if I did know. I would still buy a stack a month, but only after browsing for hours.
I can buy a book at a touch. It's priced reasonably. I have tons and tons of recommendations at my fingertips. My TBR pile is four pages long, and I have over 400 books stored on my Kindle app. I go through 3-4 books a week, at least.
I LOVE e-books. I adore them. I still feel like a kid in a candy shop.
And I try to convert. I proselytize. I pull out my I-phone and show people my app and tell them to start reading e-books. E-books have enriched my life enormously. I want EVERYONE to know about this wonderful thing called e-books!!!
I think I'm not alone, since all the data seems to suggest that sales of books are up. But I'm not doubting your experience, Nathan, I'm sure there are people who aren't reading much.
Yet. Let me have a conversation with them. I'll convert 'em. I'll show them the back-light. 😉
I've been reading a lot more ever since I got my Kindle. I started with the Kindle Keyboard a couple years ago, then upgraded to the Kindle Paperwhite. I LOVE the light on the Paperwhite–now I can read it in bed without the hassle of an external light source. I've been very happy with my Kindle Paperwhite and really enjoy reading on it every chance I get.
Reading nothing much at all now. Too many distractions and time seems to go faster as one gets older so there seems less free time. I have more responsibilities now, too.
G. B. Miller says
I'm going through major league book fatigue right now, which is affecting everything else related to it.
I still owe a blogger friend a book review and I can't bring myself to log onto Amazon to do it.
Haven't touched my Nook since early spring and most of the non-fiction (my genre of choice for relaxing) that I've picked up really hasn't done it for me. I don't read fiction unless I'm doing book reviews and I haven't been in the mood to do book reviews since the Spring.
CMR Prindle says
Technically, I'm probably doing about the same amount of reading. However, I'm not, ahem, reading mainstream novels. On the one hand I feel guilty, like I'm not reading at all. Certainly there are books that I've bought by author's that I like that I either couldn't finish or haven't even cracked. But try telling Flag and my Kindle app that all the 200k+ works I've converted to .mobi format aren't books, and I think they'll give you the eye.
As Shawn, mentioned, though, I'm also doing a lot less writing, and that I feel very keenly.
Dawn Treude says
My reading comes in bursts. As a school librarian, I am on summer break now and have already read five books in three weeks. When school begins in August that pace will slow down dramatically. I still buy and read like a fiend. Books over shoes any day!
Way more since we moved to a farm that doesn't have cable. And even more with the Kindle. I'm a slow reader, but I usually do a book a week. Atlas Shrugged took longer.
Magdalena Munro says
Rarely do they all line up nicely…so I'm just going with the flow for now!
Cathi Stoler says
Reading as much as I can. I read every night before I go to sleep…and then can't wake up in the morning!
Chris Pluchar says
I'm with all the other Kindle Paperwhite owners.
My reading was starting to drop off, but this device is a pleasure to read on and take anywhere.
Day to day though, it just depends on my work schedule. If I'm in the middle of a long and draining gig, then I let myself sleep rather than force a few chapters down. But once I'm free again, I generally read plenty to make up for it.
Anne Greenawalt says
Audiobooks have helped me to maintain my normal level of book consumption. I can keep "reading" while driving, cleaning, cooking…
Cecelia Dowdy says
I can honestly say that I'm reading about the same as I used to. If I don't have a print copy of a book with me (like when I'm at the hairdresser or waiting someplace), then I'll have my Kindle. If I don't have my Kindle, then I'll just whip out my Andriod and use the Kindle app to read a book!
Also, there are so many freebies and cheap books out there! With those apps, free books, cheap books, etc. I have a wealth of reading right at my fingertips! 🙂
I'm with you as far as reading on my phone constantly. I've blazed through books, courtesy of the e-revolution.
That being said, there's still no comparison to reading a good old fashioned paper and glue book.
I'm reading more books than ever because I always have access to them on my phone, laptop or tablet. Audio books play a big part as well.