Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Reading is Changing. What's Going On?

I finally got started on Shelfari yesterday. It was something I’d wanted to do for a while. As I was entering a few of the books I’ve read in the last year and books that I plan to read over the summer, I realized how my reading material has changed. And as I reflected, I realized the way I read has changed as well. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, it’s just different than it used to be.

I always believed that when you read a book, or article, or anything for that matter, you read the whole thing – beginning to end. I have even finished books I didn’t like. Maybe it’s that philosophy I have, “when you start something you finish it.”

My reading habits have also changed with a huge increase in reading online news and blogs. A couple of years ago, I never would have dreamed that I would be reading blogs and be so interested in what other folks have to say. I used to equate blogs to talk radio, and I really dislike talk radio. But I've found I learn so much from bloggers. They really stretch my thinking as I continue to learn.

Another change I’ve noticed is the speed at which I read. I do a lot of skimming and scanning. Hardly ever do I hang on every word authors have to say even if I do respect them and consider them to be experts.

I also like to listen to music while I'm reading. Noise in general doesn't bother me anymore. What can be more distracting is the silence. Not so a couple of years ago.

This change in reading has wreaked havoc with my reading for pleasure. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s the fact that the genre of my pleasure reading has changed. I used to lead a book club. In fact we were together for three years, and I really enjoyed it. I relished not only my reading (every word, cover to cover) but also the discussion that went with each selection. Now I rarely read for pleasure the old way, and when I try, I find myself skimming and scanning—not exactly the best way to enjoy a good novel.

I wonder what’s going on. Is it a physiological change? Is it simply a change in my preferences? Have I become impatient and expect instant access to all kinds of online material? Or does it really matter? What I do know is that I read so much more now than I ever used to even though it is a different kind of reading. And, I am enjoying it.

However, it's summer. And I AM going to get back to Madame Bovary, the classic novel I started several months ago, and I AM going to read it word for word, cover to cover. I’ll do that though, after I skim the first few chapters—I don’t remember what the book's about.


  1. Laura and I had a conversation while she was in the middle of writing this blog. I realized that I too had changed my reading habits since having a laptop that I take everywhere, on which I have installed Kindle, became a tweeter, etc. Several novels, plus a couple non-fictions, all lay in my chair-side book rack untouched for months. My reading had changed to pursuing bits and pieces, usually found through Twitter contacts. So, is this what has happened to our students, who seem to never read a book? I have two high achieving, high school age stepkids in my house who never seem to read anything more than Facebook, bits here and there from web searches, and whatever comes with gaming. The boy who never seemed to put a book down, now never picks one up. The girl who wanted to write her own novels no longer reads any. Is this what our over-stimulating digital environment does to us? Does it actually physically change our minds and our intellectual appetites? I'm beginning to wonder.

  2. Hey, Laura - to your point that you skim, you should read this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/20/perceptual-learning-teach_n_880604.html I wonder, especially considering the fact that a large part of ITBS is informational reading, if we should teach students this skill of skimming? The article isn't about reading, pe se. (I know that from my own skimming of it, ha ha.)