When I first joined a book club – which must have been about 13-14 years ago – I was a voracious reader, and thrilled at the opportunity to try new books and authors that I might not normally have picked up. Another of our group was worse than me, but I gave her a run for her money. I’m a fiction reader, perhaps because I got enough of non-fiction at work, where I needed to keep up with international political and business writings in The Economist, and the Far Eastern Economic Review (which sadly exists no longer), to name just a few. The last thing I wanted to do in my leisure time was to read non-fiction. And I read a lot. Travelling was always a problem, because I had to ration the number of books I could take with me. (Thanks to e-readers, I never have to worry about that again.)
But something happened in the decade following. I started spending much more time on-line, first on a health support group messageboard, then as a volunteer for that organisation. In 2006, I discovered Nanowrimo, and then at the end of the year, began blogging in earnest. And I’ve been blogging ever since, here, there and everywhere! And of course, part of being a blogger is reading other bloggers’ blogs (and books, when they publish). That takes time. So does FB. It’s not all about what people ate for lunch. I find my US FB friends link to fascinating (or horrifying, sometimes) articles about politics or society, and then I get surfing and read more. And I read these on my iPad, where I also have apps for a number of newspapers and magazines. I realise that I am now, predominantly, a non-fiction reader.
Reading actual books has suffered as a result. Last year I set myself a challenge of reading 40 books. I managed 25. (I blame the attractions of Italy for not achieving this target). This year I’ve set myself a challenge of 45 books. I am already one book behind, and I feel I have cheated getting even this far with a number of small books. Eleanor Catton’s 800 page Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries, is slowing me down. I go days without reading it, even though every time I read it I want to read more. But I’ll find myself back reading a blog, or thinking about or writing a blog post, or reading an article from the Washington Post or The Guardian or Telegraph or Salon or Slate or … or … or …
I was going to title this post “Did blogging kill my reading mojo?” But I have realised that it is the internet that is the real culprit. Or maybe, more broadly, technology. Whatever the reason, I miss reading fiction. And I am determined to get back to it.