Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Reading Pace

I am ashamed of myself. In the late eighties, just before I returned to work, I kept a diary of what I read. Here is one stretch

10/2-Final Harbor, David Martin; 10/ 3 The Object of My Affection, Stephen Maccauley; 10/5 Families and Survivors, Alice Adams; 10/9 A Family Gathering, Alan Broughton; 10/12 Indian Country, Philip Caputo

You get the idea. I read a lot more books than I do now. Now I read one or two a week. At best.

Yes, I write now but I think the real culprit is this-the Internet. I know I have talked about this before. Has the pace of your reading been affected by the Internet.

16 comments:

Scott Parker said...

Yes, but the Internet is only partly to blame. For me, it's a combination of real-life stuff (some TV, family, writing--although waking around 5am everyday mostly takes care of the writing) and a slower reading speed. Audio has really helped in that regard, but it is also possible that traditional reading has atrophied a bit.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, those things were fading for me by the late eighties. My kids went off to college. My job gave me time to read going back and forth on a bus. I watch less TV than ever so it's not that. It's THIS for me. Why should I read a book when I can talk with Scott Parker.

George said...

I try to read a book a day. I limit my Internet time to about an hour a day. And I don't watch much TV. I do average a movie a week. More in the Summer.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Yes! Absolutely. I get up early and spend at least a couple of hours online going through various newspapers and blogs. That would be fine, if I didn't have the need to check back in repeatedly during the day to make sure I'm not missing anything.

Even though I don't read as fast as I used to, when I find I book I really like I can still zip through it pretty quickly, like 300 + pages in a day quick. But I guess I don't feel the same urgency I used to.

Back in the 1970s, when I first started reading mysteries, I was reading hundreds a year. I got involved with mystery fanzines ca. 1977, and my reading dropped from 262 books in 1976 to 102 in 1977 to 39 in 1978! I did eventually find more of a balance and got my total up to 2 books a week for most of the 1980s, 3 a week in the 1990s, and hit 200 in 1997. 2001 and 2002 were the last years I read over 200 books. I'm reading about 3 books a week currently. Short stories both help and hurt the totals. I started reading one every day in August of 1995. For the last three years I've kept a record of every story I've read too - 760 in 2014, 786 last year.

Anonymous said...

I was a voracious reader (sometimes to the exclusion of all else) during my teens and twenties. It was not uncommon for me to find a "new to me" writer and read his/her entire body of work within a couple of weeks (Robertson Davies and Barbara Pym come to mind). That pace slowed down with increased work demands then marriage and kids in the 1980s/1990s--plus, I discovered you can burn out on even the best writer if you read too much of their work too fast (Angela Thirkell comes to mind). I find nowadays I average two books a week--but I read a lot more long-form non-fiction on the internet. I'll always be a reader, but my pace has slowed way down in the past 20 years.

--Deb

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

The truth is, Jackie reads a lot more now than she used to but she is still a television addict who watches 3-4 shows a night. When she is not around I rarely turn on the television (other than news and sports) and read more, but I can't really read and watch.

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, I think the Internet has a major effect on people's time and attention span, Patti. It's insidious, but it's definitely there.

Dana King said...

I probably read more now than I ever did. Reading used to be ab activity as time permitted. I read a lot, but didn't make appointments for it. Now I have time set aside for reading, usually at lunch, right after work, and before I go to bed.

I also read a lot slower than I used to. Time was when I enjoyed powering through books. Now I like to linger over them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Like Deb, I used to go through writers like that. And Pym and Davies were two favorites. I remember going through Christie in a summer. Same with all of those early 20th century crime writers.
Now I rarely go to a second book by a writer. The similarity in writing style and themes put me off doing that.
The exception would be Tana French, Laura Lippman and a few more mainstream writers. Joe Landsdale perhaps. It is nothing to do with quality-more to do with time running out. And if you read perhaps 75 books a year, you want to sample widely.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I read that way a lot in the '70s, though even then I had so many writers I was reading that it was rare to read a bunch in a row. One exception was Simenon, as I would often read three in a row. In the early 70s it was Christie, then Sayers. In 1975 I read 11 of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time in a month, including 8 in a row. I followed that with 9 of Richard Stark (Westlake)'s Parker books (4 in a row), then the first 4 Raymond Chandler novels. I read 11 Christies in the first two weeks of December 1971, then another 11 in January of 1972. In May through August of 1973 I read 28 Erle Stanley Gardners, including 13 in a row.

I've also done it with non fiction, reading the 5-volume Henry James biography by Leon Edel over two weeks in early 1974.

Those days are gone, sadly. In the last three years I've read two books in a row by the same author five times (Lawrence Block, Bill Crider, Bill Pronzini, Kevin Wilson, Nathan Lowell). The last time I read three in a row? Can't remember. OK, I checked, It was Rick Riordan in January of 2010.

Richard Robinson said...

Yes, the Internet takes time away from reading, but not nearly so much as work used to, before I retired! I've never been a fast reader, like George and Jeff. I'm a book or two a week, depending on book length, and how caught up in the book l am. My goal is always 104 books read per year, and most years I do that, or more.

When I first retired, I would get up and have coffee on my patio and read for a couple of hours before I did anything else. Then would come errands and chores, etc. now I spend the first hour reading the newspaper and blogs, and I check back to those blogs again in the afternoon, so that's another hour. That's 2 hours of reading time a day I spend looking at the screen instead of reading, plus the time putting together and posting my own posts, and answering comments to them.

I also now have a larger garden, so I spend more time in it, planting, weeding, admiring, maintaining. Still, all this just means I try to read those two books per week, and if I zip through the Internet/computer time a little faster I have a better chance to enjoy that reading.

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely I read less. My writing, video games, real life stuff, and the net all together.

Al Tucher said...

I mentioned this just recently. My attention span is in tatters, and the only thing that is bite-sized enough for me is Facebook. I'm fighting back and slogging through books, but that's the word for it--slog.

R. T. (Tim) Davis said...

Paradox: I read more now because of blogging and the Internet even though I seem to have less time to read more now.

I'm not sure I can sort out the dimensions of that paradox. However, I bet I am not alone.

Bernadette said...

I read less now but don't entirely blame the internet - there's netflix/binge watching and work and age too. Plus I read better because of the internet - finding book blogs changed the quality of my reading by 1,000,000%

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think I watch less TV than I did 20 years ago but I replaced it with this. And Facebook is a huge time suck. HUGE. But all of my friends on there talk about books and movies so it's like a communal blog.