Reading in an Age of Distraction

A video well-worth watching, esp if you feel like you don’t read enough or don’t read the right things. Makes a lot of interesting points that will make you feel better about your habits.

The Q&A are fascinating too, and help make sense of the talk.

Some of the topics that come up…

  • Some graduating students have an anxiety about not reading the right things after they leave college

  • Many older people say they can’t concentrate for sustained periods any more in the age of tech

  • He encourages people to read for the pleasure of it, not for some reason of virtue

  • When you think about what great art demands from you… clearly you are not up the challenge of reading that every day… it’s like eating a 7 course French meal every day… too much

  • Most of your reading should not be “great books”

  • A few years ago he found it was becoming difficult getting through books for the first time in his life, having always been a voracious reader before

  • What helped him get out of that was when he got a Kindle

  • That doesn’t work for everyone, but we should all be hopeful that it’s possible one way or another to recover our ability to concentrate and to get back the joy of reading

Points from the Q&A…

  • Writing non-fiction using approach of storytellers

  • Reading novels vs reading non-fiction or textbooks

  • Checking things off lists as a source of distraction

  • Reading for fun is more motivating than reading dutifully

  • Audiobooks vs reading

  • Ideas of what is “serious literature” change. Shakespeare and Dickens were popular entertainment in their own time.

  • People use books to try to signal what kind of person they are. Maybe even to themselves.

Personally I can relate to the part about getting a Kindle giving a big boost to my reading. Though his theory about why that helped him doesn’t apply to me at all.

Unlike him I can also get wrapped up in an audiobook, but it does have to be a great book and a great reader. Great readers are pretty rare, so a lot of them are quite hard to listen to.


5 thoughts on “Reading in an Age of Distraction

  1. Yeah, I absolutely love my Kindle. The convenience factor alone reinvigorated my love of reading, especially after a vigorous Humanities degree tried its best to stamp that love out.

    As it stands now, my “system” is to read a genre book (my first love), then something recommended to me that may be out of my comfort zone, and then something about a topic I am less familiar with. The latter category mostly includes more academic books,

    All in all, I love doing it that way. I remain more flexible than this rigidity indicates, but knowing that I “ought” to mix in different books keeps things fresh for me.


  2. Pingback: Why did Kindle boost my reading? | Planet Pasduil

  3. Pingback: Why I Enjoy Reading Books? | My Inner Geek

  4. Pingback: Don’t underestimate science fiction… | Thinking Play

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