Read Like No One Is Watching
This was originally written in February 2022 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.
With the internet being so ubiquitous throughout the things we use every day, it’s increasingly easy to fall into a trap of needing to track everything we do. Sometimes this even means the time and effort that goes into this tracking outweighs the actual activity being performed. Whether these activities are active like writing, photography, and artwork, or passive like reading, there are endless ways to track and manage all these activities. When it comes to something like reading, I have fallen into this trap many times in the past. Attempting to find the perfect solution for tracking what books I want to read, which I am currently reading, and of course what have I completed. My good friend Andrew even talked about this exact issue on the show.
There is no solution that fits everyone, of course, but for me I have come to the realization that when it comes to reading, none of this stuff actually matters when it comes to the actual act of reading a book. I have attempted to use all the usual suspects such as GoodReads, Literal, Micro.blog bookshelves, and although somewhat different, more than a fair share of highlighting services. In the end I came to the same handful of conclusions for myself:
I don't read more than one book at a time.
The idea of having two or three books going at once gives me anxiety just thinking about it. My book queue is a single binary slot. There is either a book in the slot, or there isn’t. It is also important to note that there is no requirement for when the slot must be refilled after finishing a book.
What is the goal? Reading the book or logging the fact that I am reading the book?
I do not have a reading goal to hit a certain number of books, or pages per day. It’s simply a passive disconnect. I read a few pages or a few chapters each night in bed before I go to sleep and that’s it. There is no plan set up in advance; just get in bed, read something, and be done.
Book recommendations are hard.
I have a queue for music, tv shows, movies, video games, and probably a few others I am not thinking of right now. Point is, books require a different level of dedication and focus. This makes it very difficult to simply add a book to the list and “give it a try”. Having this many areas of disparate focus is a whole other issue, but given this is the way of things currently, I am ultra selective about what goes into a book selection. I find books to be much more deeply personal than something like a tv show or movie so the likelihood of someone having a recommendation that is going to fit perfectly for me is very low. And I would say that the opposite is true for me telling others.
The whole time I am writing this I realize I am not providing any great insight or words of wisdom, but I do think this topic is something that a lot of people have some level of worry but try to ignore, especially given external forces and pressures to track and join in. (Believe me, I am not immune to this!) I would just suggest giving it a second (or 9th) thought as far as why you are reading, writing, watching, playing, etc. Who is it for?