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Very thoughtful and insightful comments! Definitely true about the computer...and now experts are saying that it's also changing the way we pay attention and think. I think that's true, and it's scary. On the other hand, without the Internet, and friends' posts, I wouldn't have found so many like-mined readers! (And so many UK books that we can't get our hands on for six months or so...)


You're right, Audrey. I should add that the internet has had an immense and very positive effect on my reading life as a whole, I should perhaps just use my time on it a little more sparingly!

Dark Puss

You make an assumption, and I'm sure it is one you will cogently defend, that other things detract from your reading-time. Let me reverse that argument and suggest that perhaps your reading is stealing valuable time from other activities! Certainly I don't, anymore, find anything I do really steals from anything else. That is not, sadly, to say that I have become some super-being who never wastes his time, but that I no longer see a range of activities as somehow competing in a ranked fashion for attention. I don't consider, for example, my flute playing more important than my reading, and neither are more important than my photography or listening to music or pursuing my other interests on the internet.

As I've said before, in responses to similar questions you have posed, increased efficiency in what one does or being more relaxed about ones human failings seem to me to be what is required. With age I have become both more efficient and certainly more relaxed about what I might previously have thought were "time wasting" activities. Perhaps I can gently suggest you to work on becoming more laid-back the latter? You might find it works wonders!

Dark Puss

Audrey, I'm skeptical about the pronouncements of these "experts" but I haven't spent any time reading the relevant litereature so I speak from prejudice. Do you know of any large-scale long-term studies that demonstrate this effect? It sounds so much like what was said in my generation about the negative effects of television, and probably (for all I know but again I have no evidence to present) about the "wireless" and the "gramophone" before that.

In what way have you changed the way you think, or noticed a reduction in your attention span since taking up using the internet?

Natalie @ Coffee and a Book Chick

The two primary things that keep me distracted from being the reader that I really want to be are my current job and stress from said job. I graduated many moons ago with a degree in English and Creative Writing and was initially planning on getting into some form of writing, publishing, editing, etc. -- life got a tad bit in the way and then I somehow got my Corporate job 10+ years ago and have been an operational manager dealing with financials, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations ever since... not to mention that my account portfolio increased from 3 accounts to 12 with 700+ offices this year....!!!! So my job requires at least 10 to 12 hours per day, and then once my day is done, I either think about it for another couple of hours, or it lurks in the background and halts me from enjoying being swept up in a story. Really quite frustrating! Maybe *one day* I'll get the job of my dreams and I will love the 10 to 12 hours per day I devote to it, and then I can read away with no stresses! Lovely thought!


Swither!swithering!......swithered? Cornflower I much enjoy your posts,(so thankyou)not least because of swith...please forgive my ignorance but is this a Manx or Scottish word?Might I ask you,when you come across a "new word"(if like me quite often)do you highlight it in your dictionary and note the date (for fun,interest,madness!)?
I trust all is well with you all,best regards.

Dark Puss

Scottish of (I think) unknown origin around the C16.

Simon (Savidge Reads)

I am actually procrastinating reading at the moment - oh dear!

Blogging sometimes takes away my reading time, ironically lol.


Though I know that reading blogs 'takes away' from my reading of books, I enjoy both sorts of reading almost equally. I find that so many bloggers enrich my mind and my soul that I simply cannot, and do not want to, put them aside in my life. Happily I have no outside job demands, but still there is a lot to do on the homefront. Without actually thinking about it, I have divided up my waking hours: morning is mostly reading blogs or writing a blog entry; afternoon doing house and garden work; evening watching Netflix movies or television shows (we don't have tv anymore so all the shows we watch are not current), which I adore. I'm trying to not get flustered about any of it, and just enjoy what I do while I am doing it.

Dark Puss

Simon, why do you feel that way, i.e. "takes away my reading time"? Isn't it an equally valid and rewarding activity? I posed to Cornflower the "other way round" view and I'd be interested in your opinion - does not reading take away from valuable and rewarding time which you could be spending posting on your weblog?


Thankyou Dark Puss for your answer,much appreciated,
best regards.


Well, duh, silly me - I wrote out that long note to you and didn't mention when I do read. :<) Mostly in the afternoon in between other stuff and before sleep.

Ruth M.

Reading takes away from sleep. Keeping up with blogs takes away from work. Working takes away from naps. Naps take away from gardening. Gardening takes away from reading. Did I leave anything out?


I take your point, DP. In defence of not being relaxed about the "time-wasting" activities, having - by my own choice, of course - a website which demands a certain level of reading, both in terms of quantity and degree of concentration, I may not have the luxury of being laid-back!


I wish you luck with finding that dream job, Natalie!

Dark Puss

Dear Ruth M, yes you did! None of these "take away" from anything! Unless someone is forcing you, you are actively making the decisions presumably to maximize your overall enjoyment, just enjoy that freedom!


Dog-eared (that's a great name, by the way), thankyou for your kind words. Your question is a very interesting one as I had never considered that "swither" was not a word in common currency, as it were, so I've looked it up and I'm glad I did.
Dark Puss is correct when he says the word is Scottish and dating from the sixteenth century. What I didn't know was that it's a noun as well as a verb, meaning a state of indecision or confusion, or a dithering, undecided person. And there's another meaning: to rush, swirl, move with haste and flurry - and that's also a noun, probably related to the Norwegian dialect and Icelandic word "svidra". Thirdly, the verb means to beat or batter a person (!), and fourthly, "swither" said of weather means to be very hot, as in a swelter or a great heat. Lastly, there is the derivative "switherel", a jellyfish or medusa, again from the Norwegian "svidra", feel a smarting pain, and the Old Norse "svidra", burn, singe.
I often look up new words but I've yet to annotate them as you suggest - that could indeed be fun/madness!
My thanks again.


It does indeed, Simon, and you have to read in order to post, so if you're not reading ....!


I know what you mean, Ruth!

Anita Mathias

Our laptops are the chief thief of reading time, which is why blogs are read more than books. That's how we live now, our laptops on our laps!

Julie Fredericksen


Swither is not a word in common currency here in the U.S. However, considering the heat and (unusual) humidity we have been having here in North Dakota, our weather could definitely be called swithering.

I have also been swithering about my next book to read.

As to time for reading, when I am employed, work steals it away. When I am unemployed, as I am now, I have a great deal of time for reading (27 books in June, 25 in July), but at the same time, I am also feeling guilty that my husband has to be working and bearing the brunt of paying all the bills.

And to Dark Puss: while work is certainly valid and rewarding in the terms of contributing to our family finances, most of my work has seldom been rewarding in other ways.

David Nolan

I sympathise with Natalie. It's fifteen years since I first graduated and I still find life in the "real world" a big, and indeed growing, disappointment. Unlike Natalie, though, I don't find that my job distracts from reading. On the contrary, my reading is a lifeline that helps me cope with, and escape from, the pressures of work. The fifteen hours I spend commuting each week at least provide a good opportunity to read, and I don't feel guilty if I choose to spend some of that time snoozing. (Don't worry, I commute by train!) For a reader, a period of eye rest is surely the equivalent of a training run for an athlete?

I also keep reading in the bizarre hope that it might help me to identify a line of work that might suit me better. I say bizarre because I mainly read fiction and history, neither of which are necessarily good guides to employment opportunities in the twenty first century.

Not that a dream job is top of my agenda. Right now, with my current job about to disappear, simply finding a job should be my top priority. I'm probably wasting time reading when I should be attending to that!


David, the best of luck in your search (and if you are "wasting time", it's well wasted!).

Barbara MacLeod

M-m-m-m ... a good question! I guess my answer would have to be "interruptions", e.g. other demands on my time. Take that factor out of the equation and I suppose I would have to say "the computer". I simply lose all sense of time!

Dark Puss

Dear Julie, I'm very sorry to read your last paragraph, however I do know how extremely fotunate I am in having a well paid job that I am also so enthused by (most of the time!).

Dark Puss

I'm sure you do, but clearly I am baffled by most of the comments here. I'm not posting my comments (too many I'm sure but you are all too nice to say so) just for the hell of it, I am genuinely puzzled, no let me be more honest, surprised and baffled and a little frustrated is closer, by the fact that many of you clearly identify a conflict but either won't change the circumstances or won't change your response.

Please listen to a felow sufferer who has made some progress, you have nothing to lose by relaxing your attitutdes to this apparent impasse and much to gain.

Dark Puss

Dear Anne Mathias, get rid of the laptop then, or accept that it plays an important role in your life and it isn't "stealing" anything!


We could also think about what gives us back reading I leave for a walk with an audiobook on my Ipod. The better the book, the more motivated I am! :)


My very own BBC (Boisterous Border Collie), he's the reason I don't get as much reading done as I'd like...but a good one!


I find that reading time expands to match the book being read. Thus, a 'can't put it down' book will be read at all odd moments and a so-so book read much more slowly. I'm astonished by how many books some people manage to read in a month but I would read more quickly if I had more gripping books to read!

Simon (Savidge Reads)

I don't begrudge it at all, I love the book blogosphere hence why am on it so much, it just sometimes takes over the reading in my life - its addictive.

Ruth M.

Dearest D.P.,
Of course it's my choice, but they DO take away. If I read late, I really do lose sleep. Then work suffers because I'm tired. If I nap the weeds grow taller. It's not a bad thing. I love having all those choices. But there's no denying I'd really rather be able to do two things at once. You probably have more discipline than I do (I have zero). I often really late to finish a book, and kick myself the next day for only getting three hours of sleep.

Dark Puss

Dear Ruth M, thank you very much for responding; all I was really suggesting is become at peace with who you are rather than who you wish you were.


My tuppence is that we already do what we really want to do, given the choices available to us. So there is no point in beating ourselves up over not doing things we feel would have liked to do.

DP is right (no harm in saying it once!). Be comfortable in the skin you're in.

Dark Puss

Thank you for your support, I had wondered if I was a lone voice here. Anyway I said far too much, and rather too abruptly I suspect, on this post so I'm now taking a break from commenting for a few weeks.


Having a two year old has not been doing great things for my chances of personal reading time although I do spend a fair amount of time reading to her. Perversely having added a newborn to the mix I now get more time as I make a point of picking up a book rather than the laptop for at least a couple of feeds.


That's a very interesting point, Barbara. Thankyou!


I came to your insightful post via Savidge Reads, and find it so very thought provoking.

I've often thought of turning off my computer for Lent, then gasping at the idea. Could I do it? Not 'just check' in? I wonder...

It's funny our loves are also our enemies, in a way. Things which work for us (our love of blogging) can also work against us (in the time for our literature).

By the way, a hearty congratulations on your rank in the UK top blogs!! I'm so very happy for you.


Many, many thanks, Bellezza!

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