Lots of things have been hitting my radar recently about reading and how most of us are not doing enough of it, or at least not doing it well.
Of course first was the NPR April Fool’s joke, in which they posted an article on Facebook ostensibly about how people don’t read anymore. The trick was that when you clicked on the link, it was actually a test to see who would comment without reading the piece.
The idea was that people who actually read it were supposed to like the piece, leaving the comments for people who didn’t actually read it. With hilarious results.
But of course people would comment on such a piece without reading it, because it’s so obviously true. Most of us know from our own lives that we have less time for “real” reading and do more skimming than we used to.
We Can’t Really Read
Then there was this piece from the Washington Post about how online behavior causes us to be bad readers offline, too. The story says that, with ever more things vying for our attention, we’re quickly becoming a culture that scans, skims and multitasks to the detriment of real comprehension or enjoyment of literature, other books and indeed any long-form content.
“I worry that the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing,” said Maryanne Wolf, a Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, in the piece. She said she’s hearing from English professors that students are having trouble with the classics because they can’t focus long enough to understand the unfamiliar language and syntax of these stories.
I wonder if my inability to read just one book at a time comes from being easily distracted. I’m pretty much always “reading” several books at once. There’s usually a knitting book of some sort, which I don’t really count.
My Goodreads account says I’m reading four things right now, but in truth I haven’t picked up a couple of those since January. I am actually reading A Feast for Crows (400 pages left!) and The House of Mirth, which I’m about 54 pages into. That one is in my bag so I pick it up when we’re at the library or the park and the girl doesn’t need all my attention.
But my to-read list is a million miles long, and I add more to it all the time. So I also feel like maybe I read more than one thing at a time in the hope that means I’m actually reading more than I would otherwise.
I wonder if I should try reading just one book at a time to see if I could do it. Could you do it?
At Least I’m Raising a Reader
I like for the girl to see me reading, which is why I read at the park. We go to the library a lot, and we read a lot together.
In fact, last night we read for more than two hours. That was mostly me reading, but she can read some, too. She’s pretty much mastered the first box of BOB Books, and even when she has to sound out words her pacing is pretty good.
So at least all that reading is paying off.
What are you reading now? I’d love to add some things to my never ending list!