How Do You Read?

Ok so maybe we’re stretching this series just a little bit too far, but I think this is still a fair question. I’ve been hearing a lot about how the internet has been changing the way people process information, and therefore changing the way people read as well. There has been some research showing that people only absorb a limited amount of information on websites and blogs, and that pages with more text are either scanned, saved for later (and then often not read), or not read at all.

This has implications when we sit down to read a book, as it requires a constant, dedicated amount of attention. But we are used to having multiple internet tabs open, jumping from page to page. We are used to television that throws new subjects at us every 30 seconds with each commercial.

Are we losing our ability to really focus? I know I for one like to read multiple books at once so that I can go back and forth when I’m reading. If I stay on one book too long I become antsy and feel the need to move on to something else. I have to make a concerted effort (it seems like it’s more than it used to be), to sit down and really dive into a book for an extended period of time.

I think we’re seeing some of the response to this as well in the way books are being written. You no longer see books begin like many of the classics with a slow absorption into the world of the novel. Now the book must begin with a bang, and every chapter has to end with some kind of cliffhanger to keep people watchi–err, reading. Sound like any television shows you can think of?

So how do you read? Do you like to sit down and soak in one book for hours at a time? Do you read in snippets? while you’re watching tv? with music on? jumping from book to book?

About Luke

Luke learned to read at the age of two, whereupon he decided, like much of the male population, that it was a chore to be done only when absolutely necessary. Then suddenly at age nineteen, he discovered good books—he has been reading voraciously ever since, earning multiple literature and writing degrees. At any given moment you'll find him reading at least one book, smoking a cigar, up fifty feet in a tree he free-climbed.

Currently Reading:
Collected Stories by Alexander Pushkin
-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
The Mystery of Being by Gabriel Marcel

Comments

  1. Good points, Luke. At least I think they were. I stopped reading about 2 paragraphs in. Too long, no pics. Got bored.

  2. Monica Buescher says:

    I love this! I was thinking about how the internet might be affecting our abilities to focus for a longer period of time. If it’s fiction, and a good story, I prefer to absorb myself entirely in the book for hours/days on end (Hunger Games!). But with nonfiction, I can have 2-3 books going on at once, and I usually get distracted frequently. That’s a really good point about the way books are written nowadays… I’ve been trying to read more of the classics (am thoroughly absorbed in The Man Who Was Thursday right now) and it’s definitely a more slow, artful style of writing. Modern books ARE more like movies/TV! Crazy that I never noticed, heh. I also like the point about skimming, though I’ve done that since I was a kid — if I’m reading a novel, I tend to skip long descriptions to get to the action/dialogue. Interesting indeed. I feel like I’m fighting against the current here, and I’m trying not to lose something beautiful, so I try to read as much as possible (which doesn’t end up being as often as I’d like!).

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