Do You Read Deeply?

Last month I started a new series where I ask a book- or reading-related question. It is based on my observations of my reading life but my goal is to start a conversation about broader reading experiences, particularly as they relate to helping children and young adult readers.

Search & Donate

I recently had a question, so I hit up my favorite search engine to get the answer. Now, a few days later, I don’t even remember what I wanted to know.

Was it something important?
Related to work?
Just curiosity?

Those questions lead me to my book-ish question for February.

Has technology changed how (and/or what) we read?

There was a time when I loved nothing more than to find a spot and just read. Push away the other cares and “noises” of the world and escape to a different reality.

Now, even with setting the competition of life’s other priorities aside, I find it harder to dive into reading and “just read.”

Scanning and Speed Reading

I use “The Google” (as my S-I-L likes to call it) every day. Whatever I want to know is at my fingertips, just by typing in a couple of words. Millions of us can get answers even faster by asking Siri/Alexa/et al.

My other daily intelligence gathering stops are the Bing Home Page (picture of the day, news headlines), Feedly, and Feedspot.

Sometimes I am seeking “real” knowledge, sometimes I am catching up on what’s new, and other times I just want to have fun – like betting my husband that I’ve seen an actor in some other film.

What I am finding, though, is that the same habit of “immediate info gratification” is spilling over to my reading.

  • I look at how long an article is before deciding whether to read it, save for later, or skip.
  • I’m giving more weight to chapter lengths to determine if I want to sit and read.
  • With fiction, I often jump to the end to see if it is satisfying, then come back and read the rest.
  • For nonfiction, I skip more frequently skip over the detailed writing.

So for me, the answer to the question is “Yes.” Technology has changed my approach to reading. My attention span is shrinking and I’m becoming a more impatient reader.

Learning to Deep Dive (Again)

So what’s the fix? The obvious answer is to “slow down,” but is that the solution? For me, the volume of available information and the speed with which I can access it both play a part in my current situation.

That deadly combo leads me to believe that the first step is going to be taking the next two weeks to thin the number of resources I check and, either build or re-train filters. I won’t change the time I set aside (an hour) which will allow me to read more slowly and start reading some of the things I saved for “later.”

I enjoy those daily Bing images. They are beautiful and I always learn something interesting. But its time to let go of the quizzes and set a not-everyday schedule.

As for deeper, slower reading of books, I don’t know the answer yet. If you have ideas, I sure would love to hear them!

Last question …

Because I am not a digital native, I have a frame of reference I can use for putting a “reset” in place. I know what my reading used to feel like. So the question is … 

How do we help digital natives see the value of a “less is more” approach to reading?

Previous Questions in this Series

January – Is reading an achievement or experience?

2 responses to “Do You Read Deeply?

  1. Oh, Terry, this is a really important topic. Have you read the Maryanne Wolf book Reader, Come Home? It’s all about this topic. You could start with this article: This is also touched on iGen by Jean Twenge, the impact of digital natives on the ability to read more in-depth material.

    I, too, have noticed that it’s harder to fall all the way into a book. It’s something that I’m working on. I’m doing things like: reading more books in print vs. Kindle; not having my phone nearby when I read; flagging more passages (to read more actively); and going back over my highlights afterward, to try to more thoroughly absorb the information. Of course all of this takes time. I’ve cut back on social media, which blogs I follow, and other things to help make more time.

    The fact that we are both thinking about this at around the same time is further evidence that we are kindred spirits. Wish we lived closer!
    Jen Robinson recently posted…Growing Bookworms Newsletter: February 6: Post Reading Slump EditionMy Profile

    1. I will definitely find Reader, Come Home … in print, of course! Amazing article, too. This is SO spot on: “but more and more I read in them rather than being whisked away by them.” Yes, I definitely wished we lived closer, too. Hard to believe that the last time we were together in person was when you had just learned you were pregnant! Are you coming east for KidLitCon?

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