Saturday, 8 February 2014
What do you do if you have ten minutes in your day to spare? (No, not the kind of ten minutes where you take food out the freezer or unpack the dishwasher or write a to-do list or sweep up something weird that your dog chewed on the lounge floor). Ten minutes of breathing space. Ten minutes of reading time. Do you scroll through your twitter feed? Browse links to favourite websites or blogs? Go to your facebook page? Or do you pick up a book that you're busy reading at the moment?
Recently I have been thinking a lot about reading in the internet age; about how it changes our reading habits subtly; fragments narratives, breaks reading down into bite-sized chunks. I've written about my concerns with reading and the internet here and here, but have only recently really noticed how it has changed my own habits as well. Where before I'd crack open the spine of a book to my bookmark, I'd more likely check my twitter feed and follow links to interesting articles online.
It happened without me really noticing it. Ten minutes just didn't seem long enough to warrant the effort of getting back into a story, ten minutes too much strain to pick up a narrative and let yourself be immersed in it again, even just for a moment. The longer I left it, the weaker the pull of the story, the more distant the characters became, hazy and fading like strangers. Ten minutes just seemed better suited for shorter things, for twitter, Instagram, quick bites of news... fast food reading.
And that is not a good diet! So I'm taking back those ten minutes for real reading: give me a book, my place marked in it, a cup of tea and just enough time to read a few more pages!