January 23, 2004

2Blowhards write about rethinking reading habits (from A&L Daily):

• I'm always in the middle of a half dozen books. Often I finish none of them. This doesn't bother me -- it's part of how I like conducting my reading and writing life, dammit. …

•I own a ton of books I'll never read, and that's OK with me. I enjoy having them around. Some I wouldn't read all the way through even if I had the time. They're there for reference, for grazing through, and for company….

•So far as nonfiction goes, I see no reason not to consider websurfing the equal of plowing through a nonfiction book. If you're interested in a topic, a website -- or a bunch of websites, since there's no reason to stop at one -- can be as good as a book. …

It's funny how one is always thinking, I need to read more, envisioning oneself in the living room armchair, under the reading light, reading a classy literary novel or a scholarly history book. Why not just credit yourself with all the reading you really are doing all day long, reading websites, parts of books, stray signage, etc.?

It's a bit like people who think they should exercise more, then they just buy a pedometer, see how much walking they really are doing around the house, at work, and in stores, thereby solving the whole problem. I think it would be possible to design a readometer, perhaps as part of reading glasses, that would recognize the distinctive eye movements of reading and convert that into the number of books read, like a pedometer's miles walked.

There's no equivalent solution for doing too much of something, like eating too much. No way to prove to yourself that you really are eating less.

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