From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Reading Habits

Check out Matt Zimmerman's really interesting post on his reading habits. I started responding in his comment's section, and then realized I had written 5 paragraphs. So I popped out of there, and over here in my blog for a response.

I've tried both, and I strongly prefer reading for 4-6 hour blocks at a time, rather than 45 minutes a night. I find my retention and enjoyment is far better once I get into a groove. My startup/shutdown time when reading a few chapters per night seems to put a significant dent in my retention and comprehension. Also, my books don't run out of batteries (ie, I don't use a Kindle etc. yet). And I don't have to shut them down for the first and last 30 minutes of a flight. So most of the book reading I do tends to be in airports and on airplanes. Fortunately, I fly more than the average person. But unfortunately, I don't spend much other time reading these days.

Also, for the past 10 years, I have religiously followed a tradition of always alternating between fiction and non-fiction. Previously, I found myself stuck in a rut, reading a dozen Neal Stephenson, or Steven Levy books in a row. Alternating seems to be healthier for me and rounds out my knowledge a bit better.

As for my daily workflow, I usually start by reading my personal email (Gmail) -- maybe 10 minutes over coffee. I follow that by checking any lingering IRC messages -- 5 minutes or so. And then 15-30 minutes of work email (Canonical/Evolution). And then I tackle a few hundred various filtered emails and mailing lists -- this can take another 10-60+ minutes. I tend to check my newsreader (Liferea) twice a day, once over lunch, and again just before bed -- I can easily spend 60+ minutes reading blogs and newsfeeds. I don't really use Buzz/Twitter/Identica/Facebook, except to spread my blog post (is that wrong?), and I don't really read anyone else's Buzz/Twitter/Identica/Facebook (is that wrong too?).

In any case, I agree with Matt's assessment. Various forms of e-reading has cut into my book-reading time, for better or worse. Fortunately, I have plenty of travel scheduled for the foreseeable future ;-)


p.s. Anyone remember Reading Rainbow? It's okay to admit you started humming the theme song when you saw that logo :-)