I agree with that to a point. We are a society where our attention spans have diminished greatly. Gone are the days where people sit around reading for hours on end, at least that’s the case most of the time. I used to think the same way, videos are faster, music is quick, and then I’m not tied down to something for a LONG period if I want to switch to a different activity. Reading to me seemed like this task that required HUGE amounts of free time to complete, but that’s just not the case.
Stephen King talks about reading while in line at the store, in a waiting room, and other places in his book On Writing (which I HIGHLY, can’t HIGHLY enough recommend to aspiring writers -- let me put it this way, if you’re a writer, it’s a MUST READ). This is an interesting concept, reading in line? That’s only a few minutes. Most people wouldn’t even think of listening to a song on their iPod or other MP3 player (Zune for me) during that time. It’s usually just a quiet, “can we speed this up” time.
However, reading allows you to interact while music doesn’t. How many times has someone been talking to you and you didn’t hear them because you, as my mom says, “had your head plugged in?” That’s very common. If someone says something to you when reading, you can hear them (though there are a few cases where the story is so captivating you don’t). Therefore, if it’s your turn and the cashier tells you, you’ll hear them rather than be head-banging, totally oblivious.
This was foreign to me, I was always under the impression that you had to sit down and spend an hour or two all the time with your book…that’s not true, or doesn‘t have to be. In fact, books have more freedom than most any other form of media. You can rewind a song, but that’s more cumbersome than just looking at a line again in a book that you want to re-read (and you never have to look up lyrics or scripts like is often the case with music or movies/TV, the whole thing is subtitles)! You can read a page and stop for a min, then continue again, then stop. Granted that’s not the greatest situation, but it’s freer than maybe watching a movie where you have to be in a room, with a TV, etc (or have a device that has the movie loaded onto it or streaming Netflix -- but then again you probably have headphones in).
I digress though to my original thought and point. You are in control, so you can pause when you want. When watching a movie you can pause at any time, not just when it goes from scene to scene (divided like they are in the scene selection menu). I equate that to chapters in a book. I always used to think that if you read a book you had to finish a chapter each time. That’s not true either, you can stop anywhere. In fact, stopping in the middle of a chapter might even make you more anxious to return to the book. Chapters usually just go from scene to scene or separate major events. You can find stops in chapters and that was a mindset that I had to change.
When I did I found LOADS more time to read. I also noticed something else: treat chapters like TV shows if you really want to read one a sitting. Most times you can read a chapter in a book in less time than it would take to watch a half hour TV show. I’d never thought of that either until I noticed the chapters in Halo: Fall of Reach were each taking me about 10 minutes to read…you can read three in the time it takes to watch a show…that impacted me and really is what caused this post.
If you’re intimidated by reading, remember you are in total control of the visual aspect, you are in control of the “remote” and can pause between chapters, or if you feel like you have to finish at least a chapter a sitting or if you start a second you have to have time to finish it, try and alter that perception. But, if you can’t use it to your advantage and remind yourself that this is taking LESS time than a half hour TV show which then gives you more freedom and more time. Plus shows are cut up, they are edited for time and commercials (another thing absent in books which I covered in my last blog). A book can keep going, explain everything and is an UNLIMITED medium. So give
them a try, please. This generation is deprived of reading magic…remember the old days, I’ll end with this: