Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Anxiety Reading

Publishers Weekly recently interviewed George Dawes Green, the author of Ravens, a novel that will be released by Grand Central Publishing on July 15th. Green had this to say about changes in the publishing industry:

PW: In that intervening time [14 years between novels], what changes did you notice in the publishing industry?

GDG: People aren’t reading books so much. They text and Twitter and Google a lot—anxiety reading—but they’re too jumpy for books.

I think the phrase “anxiety reading” is a good descriptor for what we do on the internet and our various mobile devices. We check e-mail, send a text, read a favorite blog, look up a topic on Wikipedia, check a friend’s status on Facebook, send a quick tweet, read a news story, go back to e-mail, and on and on and on. For many of us, our internet agility borders on obsessive-compulsive behavior. In Green’s words, it’s “jumpy.”Instead of the relaxing, transporting experience of reading a good book, internet reading feeds and produces anxiety. Not only is its pace frenetic and its quality unfocused, but its substance is often unsatisfying, requiring more clicking to follow-up on loose ends. To combat internet fatigue, I try to keep my internet reading limited to specific times of the day, reserving other times for the focused reading of books (including e-books).


bermudaonion said...

I'd never thought about that, but it's so true and kind of scary.

Zibilee said...

I've found that if I spend too much time on the computer, I tend to have a harder time focusing on a book afterwards. I read for a few minutes and then get antsy and go do something else, or check my e-mail or something. My mind ends up wandering and I lose focus easily. It is for that reason that I stay away from the computer except when I am writing or on one special day during the week when I check blogs. It is a bit scary that computers are eroding our ability to digest actual literature.

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