Are You Reading Less?

Elizabeth Bluemle -- July 17th, 2013

Is it just me, or are even avid readers reading fewer books? Once upon a time, I would read several books each week. My annual reading numbered in the dozens, even hundreds, of titles. Lately, I am lucky to read one or two books a week. For a bookseller, that’s  not enough.

In part, I blame an unusually busy personal year. But I know there’s more to it: more media competition for my time, more technology-driven distraction, more white noise all around.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time on Facebook or Twitter or even YouTube, I haven’t developed a Pinterest, and I don’t Tumblr. I also don’t Instagram. But I know what all those things are, and that knowledge has to have come from time spent encountering and exploring them. Time that comes out of my reading hours.

I don’t have a television at home, but I don’t get to feel virtuous about that because I can and do access Netflix, Hulu, HBO, PBS, and just about any other video source on my phone, iPad, or laptop. I can live-stream Wimbledon matches and watch The Daily Show. It’s a cornucopia of visual seduction.

I have a thing for science and nature news, and it’s amazing how much time can pass browsing National Geographic or NASA’s photo archives, and reading articles about new discoveries.

If I, someone who has always read books about as constantly as drawing air, find myself struggling to read as much as I used to, how much less are people reading who have always been more casual about it? This worries me.

I’m also using audiobooks to catch up on my reading, which is helpful; even on my busiest days, I have my commute open for listening.  (Note to publishers: If only more titles were available as audio advance reading copies, you might get a much bigger pool of booksellers reading them! But I digress.)

I’ve resolved to pay much closer attention to my (admittedly rare) leisure time and adjust my activities accordingly.

Readers, are you also finding yourselves with less time (or simply carving out less time) to read? If so, are you planning to change that, and how?