I was chatting with a friend recently, and I realized that while i have definitely been reading fewer and fewer books, I’ve been more than making up for it with online reading. I’ve always considered myself a fiction reader, and really only “counted” books when I was thinking about what I’ve read. Since having babies – and even before, since starting my current job, in an office rather than in retail – I’ve started reading online a lot. Lots of blogs, mostly, although I’m not opposed to an article or two. This marks a pretty big change in my reading habits, and it’s one that I think is tied pretty directly into where I am in my life right now.
For most of my life, I’ve been told what I need to read, and so all my personal reading was purely for pleasure. I didn’t read any nonfiction because I didn’t have to – I only read what I wanted to during my personal reading time. Now I’m still only reading what I want to, but I’m more interested in nonfiction – still not dry dusty histories or even biographies, but design and DIY tips to learn how to make our home nice without spending too much money, or parenting articles and advice – even parenting blogs written by non-experts give a nice perspective on how other people are raising their kids. In a way it’s a less rebellious way to read – for a long time I only read nonfiction when I was forced to, by school. Now I’m free to admit that there is a time and place for nonfiction, and it’s absolutely in my life.
More importantly, though, blogs and articles can be read quickly. Reading even one chapter of a novel can take twenty minutes, easily. When do I have twenty minutes free to sit and read? (Spoiler alert: it’s during story time, IF I put away the laundry beforehand). Reading online, however, can be done in short spurts that fit into my life. Finish my paperwork with five spare minutes before I have to be on a conference call? Thats enough time to read a new blog post. Ten minutes left of my lunch break after eating and tinkering with my lineup? Plenty of time to catch up with a few articles. I can even read them on my smartphone while I’m snuggling with one of the girls.
So, it’s not so much that I’m reading empirically less these days. I’m just reading in a completely new and different format. And it’s one that even I don’t recognize as “real” reading.