Invisible Reading Time

It’s tough finding the time to read. Even with all of today’s advances in e-books, e-readers, laptops, and tablet computers simply finding the time to sit down and escape into your favorite texts can be a daunting task. I know that personally, with a two-year-old and a six-month-old in the house, and working several jobs, finding that time is incredibly difficult and, once found, incalculably precious. There are those times when you are invariably going to read something: on the throne, on a train, in the doctor’s office; but these instances don’t generally amount to much quality time (unless something has gone horribly horribly wrong). Many of us claim that with our busy lives and many obligations that there simply “isn’t enough time to read anymore.” Then again, there are “invisible” reading times that we don’t often count as reading that we must factor in to that statement.

Invisible reading time could be what you are doing right now. Some people consider blog and article reading online as “reading,” and others don’t. For me, it depends on the content. Some websites I frequent daily, but I don’t consider reading their articles as part of my “reading time” that I generally feel is satisfied when I read a few comics or chapters in a novel or book. Eat Your Serial’s blog, and under our former daily fiction model, aims to bridge the gap between traditional and invisible reading by giving you something worthwhile and interesting to read that feels substantial, but has the comfort and convenience of the Internet. Some sites don’t offer that same satisfaction.

Regardless of the caliber of the content, the Internet does provide a great deal of text to people on a daily basis. In fact, I’m willing to wager that once factored in, people actually read now than in the past. People don’t typically count the time that they spend on Twitter or Facebook or other forms of social media as reading time, but these are forms of communication that are entirely text based. In my college creative writing course, I assert to my students that the blog and the tweet/status update are quickly replacing the essay and the journal as forms of written record and as a genre of writing. The tweet specifically could be likened to the haiku (in a way) because of the character limitation and it’s similarity to syllabic limitation. This burgeoning genre of writing has a flip side though—it must also be a genre of reading. It cannot be one without the other.

It really begs the question, what do we consider reading time? We can generally whip out the Internet on a mobile device or some sort of portable technology with reading content available either in memory or via wireless connection at any given moment: at work, on the commute, dinner with grandma, whatever.  The time we spend sitting with a printed and bound tome may be what we consider ostensibly to be our sole and sacrosanct reading time, but that changes the content that we have queued and the progress of delivery formats. There is something psychologically satisfying about having that volume in your hand, with the smell of pages ,and the weight of it. The need for information, stories, and escape can be fulfilled just as easily at our desks at work, on the bus, or in the park without carrying it around. Those quick moments we steal  to check our e-mail, look up a sports score, return a Facebook comment, or read a fantastic article by Brandon Melendez and/or the Eat Your Serial bullpen and stable of authors are just as legitimate. I won’t go so far as to say the LOLcats is the same as Tolkien, because it isn’t, but I do defy you to keep track of how many times you read something online and make a note of it before you make the claim that there “isn’t enough time to read.”

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4 thoughts on “Invisible Reading Time

  1. I agree. There are several blogs that I check on my own time that give me as much pleasure as a good book or newspaper article. That being said, a lot of the superfluous reading I do online (I’m thinking of reading Yahoo! articles, for instance) doesn’t seem or feel like valuable reading time. Since I stare at a screen most of the day, I enjoy sitting down at night and relaxing with a book. I just bought an iPad, though, so my reading may turn into reading on THAT screen…ah, well. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂 

    •  @annedreshfield Yeah, its hard to draw the line too. Some of these articles on the internet are kinda like watching a train wreck–you don’t count it as entertainment but you can’t help but check it out thoroughly.

  2. There’s nothing like a book, the feel & smell of the pages, but like the horse & buggy it might come to pass. I have an ipad, but I fine the back lighting gives me a headache after awhile, the nook I find is easier to read, it looks more like a page in a book than other tablets. I realize most people get their info from the internet, but although there are tons of info, the info is not always reliable, accurate, and a lot of the time the info is bias, slanted, and agenda driven. I like to call this misinformation age. 

    •  @GlennBerman Unfortunately the bias exists in print as well as on online, the draw back to the ease of self-publication with the march of progress is the ease of self-publication of misinformation, ignorance, or malice. I think the print book will always have a place somewhere, but its hold–like many physical repesentations of media–seems to be slipping in the consumer market.

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