How Have Your Reading Habits Changed?

Some years ago, standing in line with my daughter waiting to get a flu shot, I started to re-read Moby Dick on my phone. It was the first time I read a book that way—and reading such a big book on such a small device made me laugh. That was then. Now, while I rarely read books on a tiny screen, I’m just as likely to read one on my iPad as I am to flip the pages of a hardcover or paperback.

Years ago, I used to get two and sometimes three daily newspapers and well over a dozen magazines delivered to my home. I still get a local paper and a bunch of magazines—it’s an old habit, and my wife and I have devoted so many years of our lives writing for newspapers and magazines that it seems traitorous to end it. But the truth is, I spend most of my time staring at my phone. I’m not reading less than I used to. Quite the contrary. A reading device is always in my hand or my pocket.

And while the enticements of binging TV or streaming movies are powerful, you can be sure I’m scrolling through digitized stories from across the web to learn more about what I just watched. How much of that story was true? Who was that actor? Where did they shoot that? What else has that director or writer made? Some nights my phone or iPad hits me in the head because I refused to stop reading before falling asleep. I’m lucky I don’t wake up with a black eye.

What about you? How have your reading habits changed? Are you determined to stick with the printed word as much as you can or has the convenience of digital and screens made that feel increasingly obsolete? Do you think you’re reading more than you used to, given the sheer variety and accessibility of writers and forms?

Permit me to share one last thought, before reiterating how much I appreciate this burgeoning community and the opportunity to learn from each other: There are few greater pleasures than getting deep into a book that I can’t stop reading, even if I do get distracted by the omnipresent lure of social media. That’s why stacks of books remain piled high on my night table.

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