“Reading? All of this?! Nah, I’ll just keep scrolling…”
You may never have told yourself this explicitly but if you’re anything like me, you’ll recognise the feeling.
In the digital world we live in, it has become more and more common to spend (or waste, depending on your outlook) the little free time we have by thumbing our way down on our phone screens, or watching the newest season of something on our computers, than to actually reading a book.
Yes, my dear librarians, writers and publishers, it seems that reading – one of the oldest forms of leisure that has kept you in business and fame for the last centuries – has indeed fallen a few spots on the Top 10-Time-Spending-Activities-Chart. I know it has on mine: I used to read quite a lot, but the last years I have dedicated more time to online or digital interactions than to diving in a book.
Reading Does You Good!
Reading is proven to have a lot of benefits, ranging from reducing stress to improving sleep and memory and, of course, engaging your brain. It is one of the first things we learn how to do and a skill we use so naturally that we cannot keep ourselves from doing it once we see some text in our language. It’s fun, helps us building knowledge and culture, gives wings to our imaginations, and is a stimulating activity.
Despite all of this, we are often exchanging it for lighter, more modern and more “social” activities (we need the quotation marks because that group of people bent down on their phones doesn’t actually look very sociable…). It seems like our generation is forgetting about reading. Books are no longer the themes we talk about, they are no longer our bedside companions and no longer the activity we choose to spend that lazy Sunday.
Yes, the big book names are still popular and making their way into our subway rides or waiting rooms: the “Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter’s” and “Millennium Trilogy’s” of life are still huge successes and millions have read them. But if there is no big bestseller book on our radar, if we’re not told what to read by a Facebook algorithm, then we are most likely going to forfeit the idea of reading a book altogether.
There’s something about this that fills me with a little sadness: I remember the good old days at school or primary, feeling curious about all the books I would read. Seeing all those colours, hearing bedtime stories, the sounds, imaginary heroes and, at some point, reading on my own, is what captured me in my early ye¬¬ars. Jumping from one chapter to another, picturing the stories so vividly in my mind, imagining each character and exploring their worlds. Back then this was more than enough to entertain me.
Why Getting Older Often Means Less Books
However, this magic faded away when adolescence kicked in. Sports, flirting, computers and digital interactions became a part of my life. And, let’s be honest, they were extremely fun. Book started to loose ground, and I didn’t seem to mind too much.
Nobody likes to be bored, and that time that we sometimes have to kill which was once kept alive with a book is now replaced by a quick and easy-access digital interaction. Books were swapped for MSN, which is now Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram or SnapChat… you name it.
Reading takes time, some patience and actual focus, and with so many things distracting us in our lives – multiple selfies per day, Netflix, CandyCrush – it can feel like these things are impossible for us to do. There is so much happening out there, that we don’t want to be missing out.
On top of that, we’re constantly told to stay effective, to work hard, and to squeeze every possible second of productivity out of our lives. Technology has enabled us to do many things and in an easier way (where is my Uber?!) and yet, paradoxically, this has piled pressure on us to do more things. In a world with No zero days!, and Boost your productivity rate now!, sitting down with a book can feel like an unaffordable luxury.
So, What Can You Do to Read More?
But when I think about it, I’m probably reading more words than I have at any time in my life. Bits of information here and there, a shortened version of a conversation, a catchy headline, a random update from a friend across the globe, the latest news on celebs… I’m reading all of this regularly, but a full book, with chapters, intrigues, twists and turns and a complete plot… Sometimes that feels like a thing of the past.
Well, I know that I miss the days I’d read all the time and easily got lost in books. In fact, I realized this a while ago now, and I am making a conscious effort to get back into reading.
I used to find myself drowning in my Facebook feed, miles away from anything that actually interested me, hypnotised by the scrolling and shallow information flow. Then I just started taking a book in my backpack. Suddenly, reading was a choice again.
Sure, having a good book is key, and it does take some effort. I can tell you it’s not easy at first, and I do still scroll and post, but once you’re back into it, the hard thing is putting your book down.
So, even though that tube ride is quite long and boring and you have some posts to scramble through, remember, a good old book is always an option!
Author: Manuel Paisana
Edited by: Paul Fowler