I’m starting to wonder if there’s something wrong with me.
I’m going to take a pause here while all of you get the obligatory jokes out of your systems so we can move on.
What I mean is that I remember just absolutely tearing through books. I’d knock out a good, thick novel in less than a week, faster if it was something that was really gripping me. But even books that weren’t holding my interest would get finished out of sheer dogged determination, and in a timely fashion. Hell, I have bald patches on my knees from all the bathroom reading I’ve done over the years. You’re welcome.
But nowadays, my reading pace has become glacial. I started a book back at the end of December that’s a little over 300 pages long and I’m just barely halfway through it. And I’m enjoying it! I did go through Jim Butcher’s latest Dresden Files novel in about a week, but even that feels slow compared to how I used to be. I hear about people who read two or three books of that size in a weekend, and I wonder what happened to the Richard who used to be able to keep up with them.
And like I said, it’s not the quality of the material. I finished off plenty of bad Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars tie-in novels in my day without breaking a sweat. Granted, I’ve lost a lot of my patience for bad fiction, and become more willing to give up rather than push on. But even that feels like a bit of a defeat.
I do have a lot more distractions these days. Between my various gaming outings and the assorted entertainment options streaming into my apartment, there’s not quite the same amount of time I used to have. Besides, with my phone, I can take the book I’m reading with me anywhere I go. I could easily get in a few pages waiting in line somewhere, or sitting waiting for a movie to start, or in between board games.
It occurs to me though that the technology could be the issue. It’s become easy to forget I’m reading something when, instead of a thick stack of bound pages on the shelves next to my bed reminding me they’re unread, it’s a flat screen and a bunch of data that really offers no indication of how far I have to go. It’s almost an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing. While I love the portability and compactness of my Nook Color, it doesn’t quite offer the same sense of progress and completion as seeing the bookmark get deeper and deeper into a book. It’s not the same clicking out of a browser as shutting a back cover. It could be that I’m missing the tangible experience of reading that, for so long, was my stumbling block in going digital, one that I thought I’d overcome.
Or maybe I just need to disconnect a little more often and read books instead of web pages and status updates. I’m sure the combined number of words I read on a screen each day is more than equal to a good chunk of a novel. But probably not as rewarding. I like my Facebook friends, but their posts can’t compete with a good novel. And no number of movie blogs and message board posts are going to equal the considered thoughts of an author.
I guess I need to make reading, real reading, a habit again. Step away from the computer desk and the TV and just bury myself in a book, in whatever form it comes in. The fault lies not in the parts, but in myself.