technology and reading

Is technology making us bad readers?

girl-reading-iphoneI have always been an avid reader. It’s a big part of why I am a writer. As Toni Morrison says, “If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” That said, in the month or so leading up to The After Girls book release—as well as the couple of weeks since—I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. It’s not that I’m not reading. I’m blowing through Game of Thrones on audio books during my commute (hence my love for Arya Stark), and I’ve got Helter Skelter, the true story behind the Manson murders, on my Kindle, but I just haven’t been able to devour books like I used to. Case in point: my Goodreads book-tracker is constantly reminding me how far behind I am on my goal of reading 40 books this year, and Amazon sent me an email this weekend asking me to rate Helter Skelter (I’m not even halfway done! Usually, by the time I receive the rating email I’ve moved onto lots more books).

I think the most egregious thing is that Feed and How I Live Now are overdue to the library, and I’ve already renewed them once—and I haven’t finished either.

I could just be in a reading slump, but I can’t help but thinking that The All-Consuming Internet is to blame.

Here are the social networks I have a presence on as an author:

Facebook Twitter Goodreads Tumblr Wordpress Amazon Author Program Figment Pinterest

Here are the ones I have an active presence on as a human (I use these to share things other than writing):

Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest

As you can see, my social footprint essentially doubles when it comes to writing. And it’s great. I love blogging, connecting with readers and other writers, and finding inspiration from the millions people out there who love books as much as I do. But keeping up with so many networks takes time. Time that not so long ago I would have spent, say, reading an actual book.

The truth is, sometimes after a long day, it feels easier to just jump on all these networks and check out what’s new than to pick up a book. A book takes you away from the outside world. It requires your attention. And it doesn’t allow for multi-tasking. That’s what’s so wonderful about it—and what sometimes makes us averse to it. It requires commitment.

There are so many ways that technology has encouraged reading and literacy (hello, Goodreads!), but I’m going to make a point to set aside more time for actual reading and writing and less time for writing/tweeting/checking reviews/posting about reading and writing. We’ll see how it goes.

Oh and yes, I completely realize and appreciate the irony of talking about this through a blog post.

Happy reading, everyone!