Scatter-brained Reader

Italian Journey – Goethe
Tai-Pan – James Clavell
Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art – Peter Henry Emerson
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2016
John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Photography – John Hedgecoe
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome – Mary Beard
The Histories – Herodotus

This isn’t a list of the books I’ve read so far this year; this is a list of the books I am reading at the moment. In addition to those books, I read The Guardian Weekly newspaper. It’s really too many.

How did I get to a seven-at-a-time habit? Most of the problem is my rotted-out attention span. People worry about the younger generation and their very short iPad attention spans. The digital age has not only affected those born into it. Since the spread of the Internet and instant entertainment my attention span has deteriorated badly. I can barely sit down with a book for ten or fifteen minutes when I have to get up and look at another book, look at something on computer, or, sometimes, just pace the room and hall because I don’t know what I want to do next but can’t continue what I was doing.

I had an idea to set a timer for fifteen minutes and not stop reading until the timer went off. I would do that for a couple of weeks and then increase the time to twenty minutes. And so on. Maybe this will improve my powers of concentration. Maybe I’ll feel too much pressure to read until the timer chimes and not be able to concentrate on my book. Probably I’ll keep checking the timer to see how much time is left. Well, I should try it anyway. My short attention span is a problem.

Although I want to reduce the number of books I’m reading at a time, the number won’t go down to 0 and I don’t want it to. The Goethe is in my office and I read it to take a break from work. I like fantasy and historical novels for relaxing and reading before bed. And I like learning so I need one non-fiction book at all times. The newspaper I usually look at in the morning when I’m having a cup of tea.

Wish me luck. I hope to return to my university days when I would flop down on the bed and read Dickens for several hours at a time.


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