Helen Palmer (nice_cup_of_tea) wrote,
Helen Palmer

On Books, Reading, Rereading and Distractions

This year, the one resolution that I have been good at keeping, is to read more books. The goal for 2015 was to read 100 and I am currently at 80, with just under a month to go. I might just make it :-) I listened to a Tedx talk recently by Tai Lopez. He talks about reading - his suggestion is to see books not as a one-off event, but to really re-read the ones you love. He suggests a core library of 150 books that you come back to, time and time again.

When I was a child/teenager, buying books was a luxury. I often got book tokens, but weighed up carefully what to buy. I had 2 bookshelves and all my books on there were old friends, re-read many many times. It is definitely a different experience going back to a book that you know so, so well. Now I very rarely re-read books, mostly because I have so many books waiting to be read. I do like the idea of finding my 150 core books - what would yours be?

I read two articles recently, that really chimed with me. Both articles argue that the nature of the internet and our addiction to digital and our distracted lives, lead to us reading less, concentrating less. I know this to be true of myself. I can get sucked into a facebook quagmire and spend an hour reading nonsense updates. When of course I would much rather be reading a book.

I hightly recommend both articles
Why we can't read a book anymore: Hugh McGuire
"Books have always been an escape, a learning experience, a saviour, but beyond this, greater than this, certain books became, over time, a kind of glue that holds together my understanding of the world. ... Books, for me anyway, hold together who I am."

"We share our minds for that time with the writer’s. There is a slowness, a forced reflection required by the medium that is unique. Books recreate someone else’s thoughts inside our own minds"

"it started to occur to me that “learning how to read books again,” might also be a way to start weaning my mind away from this dopamine-soaked digital detritus, this meaningless wash of digital information, which would have a double benefit: I would be reading books again, and I would get my mind back."

Addicted to Distraction: Tony Schwartz
All my life, reading books has been a deep and consistent source of pleasure, learning and solace. Now the books I regularly purchased were piling up ever higher on my bedside table, staring at me in silent rebuke.

Instead of reading them, I was spending too many hours online, checking the traffic numbers for my company’s website, shopping for more colorful socks on Gilt and Rue La La, even though I had more than I needed, and even guiltily clicking through pictures with irresistible headlines such as “Awkward Child Stars Who Grew Up to Be Attractive.”

But with each passing day offline, I felt more relaxed, less anxious, more able to focus and less hungry for the next shot of instant but short-lived stimulation. What happened to my brain is exactly what I hoped would happen: It began to quiet down.

When I’m online, I try to resist surfing myself into a stupor. As often as possible, I try to ask myself, “Is this really what I want to be doing?” If the answer is no, the next question is, “What could I be doing that would feel more productive, or satisfying, or relaxing?”

And a final thought - saw this quote in the Guardian and cut it out :-) So, so true....
Tags: article, books

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