I was reading an interesting article from the LA Times on The Lost Art of Reading. In it, author David Ulin talks about how he has trouble focusing or actually sitting down to read anymore. Amid the distractions of the modern age, who really has time or (of those who do) who can cut through all the muck and focus? Ulin is a book editor at The Times for goodness sakes. If he can’t read, what hope is there for the rest of us? Let alone writing.
Ah well, I guess it just takes a force of will. We are losing our abilities to concentrate because of the way we are training our brains. We no longer read but scan and this makes it harder for us to focus when we actually sit down to read. Check out this article from the Atlantic Is Google Making Us Stupid?. Of course I think it would’ve been funnier if it was titled Is Google Making Us Stoopid, but a minor point. So, what hope is there for us? How do we get back in touch with that inner book lover once again? How do we dust of our collection of fine leather bound books and stop using the writings of Benjamin Franklin to hold up the sagging middle of our cheap couch (wait TMI there)?
I think the best way to begin reading again is to start slowly. Start with a fun piece of literature that you can just plow through (such as genre fiction). You’ve got to build your reading self confidence back up slowly. Just diving in headfirst to War and Peace or Mutiny on the Bounty will only crush that carefully kindled reading spark. Check out free audiobooks on iTunes (there are tons) and listen to them in the car or when waiting in line/at the dr’s office/on your lunch break, wherever.
I guess what I’m really saying is let’s get off our lazy butts and read. I know it is easier to pull a Bartleby and say “I prefer not to” but the literacy and academic level of our society is at stake. Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now.