I Blame the Internet for My Lack of Reading Books, What’s Your Excuse?

BooksI must say, I love this day and age where information flows freely. I remember back (what, ten years ago?) when I took magazine and/or newspaper subscriptions seriously. There were (are) so many, and they all cost money. Which ones should I subscribe to? Which are worth the time of sifting through pages to find what I really want?

But now, finding information to stay up-to-date on your news or hobbies? Who spends time actually searching for information they used to get in a magazine or newspaper? I know I don’t. It’s almost in front of me before I’m ready for it; I’m still catching up with what’s considered old news because it’s been a couple days. Sites like Techmeme or Google News aggregate it for me. Combine that with my favorite RSS feeds via Google Reader (all of which are free daily updates of what I used to pay for via magazines or newspapers) and I have some good, quality information that interests me.

But when was the last time I read a book? I can’t remember; I’m too busy reading magazines and newspapers (or the Internet, which sounds worse? It’s really the same thing). I used to love reading books, but now I feel like they’re extremely long, time consuming, and lack variety (remember that most of what I read now is by a different author every page or two).

I’m not saying this with pride. In fact, it’s a little embarrassing. Not enough to keep me from posting it publicly, though. I’m curious to know if others have experienced this or a flavor of it. Does the Internet cause you to read books less?

  • Ironically, fiddling with my blog about books keeps me from reading books. Go figure.

  • Tom Caswell

    I have to agree. I think my attention span is getting shorter and shorter. The web sites I visit every day tend to give me this kind of bite-sized information, which takes less effort and further reinforces my “self-inflicted ADD.” So is that a bad thing? Will I get to the point where I am no longer capable of complex thoughts and end up living in a cave? I dunno. But I, too, must confess that with all the interactive ways to share information online, reading has definitely taken a back seat for me.

  • Paul Ellis

    You know I don’t have a fair control group to tell whether the Internet makes me read less books. Before the Internet, it was always books that made me read less books.

  • Wow, Ian, if it’s any consolation, your irony makes me feel better about my situation!

  • Logan Bobo

    Hmm. Not me—I still read plenty of books. And, to tell the truth, it reminds me just how much most (not all, of course) Internet reading and information just skims the surface instead of imparting thorough knowledge.

    I’m currently finishing up Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral. Amazing.

  • Andy

    I actually think, Tom, that you aren’t “dumming down” but becoming more selective about what you read and more specific to getting answer questions.

    I don’t think that we are becoming more scattered thoughts, just more organized. I look at what I am interested on the net and the rest of the page is just fluff.

  • Tom Caswell

    That’s exactly why I use lots of so-called Web 2.0 tool and sites. It organizes things in a way I couldn’t do before. But I think Logan’s point is valid. I probably need to spend time reading more just to get deeper into things that interest me. Reading also seems to be a great way to incubate ideas.

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  • I know no one is probably following this any more–a year later, but I'll put in my two bits–reading novels really is good for your brain. It's great we have the internet for the information, nonfiction stuff, that interests us and that we need to know–but the fiction world allows your brain to organize thougths in a different way that can be very valuable in developing logical thinking processes, as well as allowing your imagination to work, which is really very important for spiritual, emotional and intellectual reasons.

  • I think you're right, Heidi. Full length fiction, though, can often be
    one of the first things to get squeezed out (of my life) when time feels
    scarce. But I'm working on changing that…

  • I think you're right, Heidi. Full length fiction, though, can often be
    one of the first things to get squeezed out (of my life) when time feels
    scarce. But I'm working on changing that…