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Making time to read - The Ex-Communicator

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March 21st, 2011


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06:47 pm - Making time to read
darkemerald (on dreamwidth) posts about loss of reading attention. I am very conscious that during the past couple of months, when I have been very stressed with leaving my job, my reading capacity has shriveled away. When I am stressed I can't concentrate, and story books and serious non-fiction are what disappear first. I still read poetry, and I also still read lots of online stuff, daft or serious, and watch television. When I am at my lowest ebb I play stupid computer games. I have been unhappy and stressed the past couple of weeks, though I am hoping it will ease up now, and my reading has kind of pipped off, and my writing too. I am hoping it comes back now.

emerald's questions in italic

Do you read books? In what formats?

I read books in paper, on Kindle, and listen to them on my i-pod.

How would you describe your relationship to reading?

It's all unsettled at the moment because the rhythm and pattern of my life has changed a lot recently, and I haven't adjusted to it. For example I used to listen to a lot of novels while I was walking to work and back. Working from home gives me opportunities to read but I haven't properly adjusted to them yet.

In the past reading has been my big thing, my solace and retreat. I read all through bringing up my kids. When I see people now that I used to know then they are all 'I remember how you would always be reading'.

When I was off sick with appendicitis and other stuff I found I couldn't read much then. It came back that time so I am confident it will come back this time.

How much do you read--hours per week, books per month, however you measure it?

It's just fallen off so much in the last couple of months that I can't even say any more. I read some of something every day.

When? Under what circumstances?

I read in the living room on the sofa. I read in the Supermarket waiting in the queue. I read in the bath. I read while I am doing the washing up with a book propped up. I read in a cafe. That kind of thing.

Is there something you specifically don't do to make time for reading?

No. I am weak and I just do what I feel like each moment. I do feel like reading quite a lot, generally.

Have you noticed a decline in attention--in the ability to sit and read? And if so, how do you deal with it?

I think the Kindle has exacerbated my magpie tendencies. Because I don't have to commit to taking a particular book with me when I go out, I have like a dozen on the go at once, which isn't very satisfactory. I think I may settle a bit with it when I get used to it.

(22 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:March 21st, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
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I don't have a Kindle, that doesn't stop me from having a dozen hard-copy books on the go at once! (And it doesn't stop me from re-reading books I own while the bookmark in the library books hasn't moved.)

I notice that one of the most potent determinants of my mood is whether I have something in the house that I'm really eager to read.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 21st, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
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The extra temptation with the Kindle is that I always have dozens of books with me at all times.

Incidentally, it's a really good device for striking up conversation with waitresses. They always want to have a look.

I know what you mean about mood. I haven't got one I really love on the go at the moment.
[User Picture]
From:katlinel
Date:March 21st, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
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My reading goes down the pan when I am stressed, and it's noticeable that it's my ability to read anything new that disappears. I revert to a specific set of comfort reads, and sometimes, it's even reading particular parts of books. I have been in the place where I lost all ability to read a book, and that was not a good place at all. It did come back; I am sure yours will too.

I went to a Writer's Block workshop the other day (for academic writing), not so much because I have writer's block, but I have reader's block at the moment, and I am pretty sure they come from a similar place.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 21st, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
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it's funny because poetry is more intense than novels but I can still get pleasure from it - perhaps because i read the old favourites

I hope your workshop helped
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:March 21st, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
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Stress usually makes me buzzed, so I end up reading very fast & retaining very little. When I'm really depressed I can't read at all; I haven't felt up to reading 'serious' fiction for years. As my depression gets worse I go from reading genre, to rereading old favourites, to reading only non-challenging fanfiction (Lois & Clark being my usual standby at nadir). As I said to various people at Redemption, at the end of last year I got so depressed I ended up having a Cruise film marathon... (It wasn't all bad -- Magnolia made it almost worth sitting through Jerry Maguire.)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 21st, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
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Magnolia is great. I sat in a cinema until 2am to watch it, and it was a massive effort of will to stay conscious, but worth it. Adventure stories are a good stand-by, and murders, for when I'm at a low point.
[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:March 21st, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
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I find there's nothing to beat a good police procedural. Formulaic & status quo enhancing, with a dash of other people are in even more trouble than you without any of the attached guilt one gets from turning on the news.
[User Picture]
From:hfnuala
Date:March 21st, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
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My reading concentration has been a disaster since the kids - I suspect it's long term sleep deprivation and hope it will recover when sleeping finally happens again. I remember as a teen laughing at how long it took my mother to read anything. I feel guilty about this now.

I can read romance novels provided they aren't rapey and aren't insanely anachronistic. Which means about half the ones I get from the library go back unread.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 21st, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Sleep deprivation is a desperate thing. Then one day it all gets better and it becomes just a period of your life that you got through. I never want to experience that again.
[User Picture]
From:gylfinir
Date:March 21st, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
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This is interesting, because I've suffered from the same thing for the past couple of years, and it's been very distressing. I'm usually a voracious reader, but I can barely read a page in one sitting. Admittedly, I'm recovering from a depression, and I've been very, very stressed for two years, so I'm trying not to worry too much about it. I had a couple of weeks over Christmas when my reading mojo returned, but it's gone again. For now.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 21st, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps over christmas you were able to find time to spend on yourself, and that's always worth trying for.
[User Picture]
From:emeraldsedai
Date:March 21st, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
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At the risk of seeming to make light of your own unsettledness with regard to reading, I must say that I'm relieved not to be the only one with this affliction in some degree. In fact, it seems so ubiquitous--all your other commenters appear to suffer some version of it--that I'm beginning to feel like part of an epidemic, rather than a personal failure. I'm finding it useful to consider the various things people attribute the decline to.

Stress, insufficient sleep, depression, major life changes--and one that others here don't mention but which I'm forced to come to terms with in my own case: declining eyesight and a powerful resistance to ever-stronger reading glasses. For that last reason alone, I really should consider a Kindle, I think. It sounds like you're getting great value from yours.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 21st, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
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I am almost thinking epidemic right now, but I guess people are commenting when they recognise the pattern
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From:tehomet
Date:March 21st, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Yes, there's self-selection to consider. :)
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From:vilakins
Date:March 21st, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
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I hadn't thought of stress being a problem. Worrying about being out of work again is probably why I don't read for long stretches any more. I keep leaping up and checking LJ, going off and doing something, or knitting; I seem to need the breaks, then I go back to it. I still get through a fair few books (usually one, two at most at once), just not in long unbroken stretches any more.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 22nd, 2011 08:54 am (UTC)
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It's the long unbroken stretches. I think I feel too guilty if I take that much time to myself. Yet I can waste just as much time if you add together all the silly little things I do.
[User Picture]
From:sallymn
Date:March 21st, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
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I tend to read more when I'm stressed or unhappy, but it's comfort reading (books, fanfic, whatever) and more often than not rereading.

I don't have a Kindle (the price of ebooks is Australia - like all books - is higher than elsewhere, and unlike 'hard copy', I can't really order cheaper ones from overseas).
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 22nd, 2011 08:56 am (UTC)
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Rereading is very soothing I think. I have a lot of completely free books on my e-reader, old books like Austen and so on. And that is my comfort reading.
[User Picture]
From:tehomet
Date:March 21st, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
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I read while I am doing the washing up with a book propped up.

Cunning! I must try that.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:March 22nd, 2011 08:56 am (UTC)
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not recommended with anything you don't want to get damp
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From:gair
Date:March 22nd, 2011 10:40 am (UTC)
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I do it with the paper, usually, then I can throw it away when it's all wet.

(Another person who's lost their reading mojo. IS IT THE TORY GOVERNMENT???)
[User Picture]
From:altariel
Date:March 22nd, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
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The reading force is strong in this one at the moment. The writing force - less so.

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