Thanks to all who participated in my poll–all 20 of you. Either my readership is not great enough to generate a sufficient number of responses or the topic just wasn’t that engaging. Either way, suffice it to say that the results are not significant enough to post. Not that those of you who responded aren’t significant–you are–and I appreciate your time. Onward.
With this post and since it’s the weekend, I’m actually looking for a bit of group therapy. At the end of 2008, I was accepted into the MSLS program at Clarion University and for the next two years–until December of 2010–I was a full-time student, a full-time employee, and a full-time parent. So I didn’t have time to do much reading for pleasure. Before I started grad school, I was a voracious reader, usually involved in multiple books at one time–long, layered novels. I was a chain reader. However, I was so overwhelmed with reading for school and with life in general for those two years that I simply set aside those novels in favor of magazines, blog posts, and mindless TV.
When I graduated, I was looking forward to diving back into a good read–many of them. But that didn’t happen. And although I’ve had spurts of reading energy here and there, my natural desire to read has really never fully returned. In 2012, I read about five books, I think. That’s pretty good for the new me, but nothing like the old me. I’m in a book group and have been for the past 18 years, so I am “obligated” to read at least 10 books (we don’t choose a book in December or one month over the summer). As you can see, I have fallen short on my obligation. I still go to my monthly meeting, though, because there’s wine and chocolate and good conversation with friends.
I don’t know what’s happened, for sure, but I do know this–when I sit down to read, I can’t concentrate on what’s happening in the book. If I’m reading a print book, I’ll read a few pages and then set it aside to go and do something else that seems vitally important at the moment like check my iPhone or make a to-do list or flip the channels. If I’m reading on my iPad–no surprise here–I’ll start checking email or Facebook or all of those other, easily accessible apps. I spend more time reading book reviews for books that I’d like to read than I do reading actual books. That’s sad, especially because now that my kids are older and off living their own lives most of the time, I have plenty of time to read.
My gut feeling is that I’ve become so used to reading comparatively short tweets and Facebook posts and blog posts and online articles that I can no longer focus long enough to become fully engaged in a good, long read. I have to force myself, and it feels like a chore instead of an indulgence. I don’t know whether to blame this on age, technology, or something else. For me, going to a movie is still the ultimate great escape, and I have no problem sitting through a three-hour movie like Les Mis–twice. Maybe I’ve just become a prisoner of the screen, whether it be big or small or mobile or not. Although, like I said, I have trouble reading a book on my iPad, too.
Does this scenario ring true for anyone else out there? Has the pleasure been taken out of reading for pleasure ? How did you get it back? Or once it’s gone, is it gone for good?