Finding time to read

Every workday I catch a bus to and from work. The journey takes around 20 minutes each way and until May this year I would spend this time using social networks on my phone. Since May I have replaced the phone with my Kindle and have read almost 30 books. This is more books than I have probably read in the last three years combined.

I am certainly not a massive bookworm but there is something about being able to get lost in a story and filter out the world in a way that books can only do. I primarily read non-fiction, with a particular focus on sociology, history, and theology. And the more I read, the more I want to read.

For instance, in the last week I’ve finished Cynthia Stokes Brown’s Big History, which covers the history of the world in a very detailed but also very easy to read manner and is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m now trying to read books on the histories of Australia, Iran, Boston and gangs in Chicago (my latest problem is trying to read too many books in parallel).

I am not alone in my desire to read more, in September an opinion piece was published on Slate about reading insecurity. The piece states:

It is becoming a cliché of conversations between twentysomethings (especially to the right of 25) that if you talk about books or articles or strung-together words long enough, someone will eventually wail plaintively: “I just can’t reeeeeaaad anymore.” The person will explain that the Internet has shot her attention span. She will tell you about how, when she was small, she could lose herself in a novel for hours, and now, all she can do is watch the tweets swim by like glittery fish in the river of time-she-will-never-get-back.

The author’s argument is that this desire to read more and use the internet less is a consequence of growing up in a time where reading books have been replaced by reading e-readers, tablets and computer screens. And we don’t read less we just read differently. The article as a whole is great (you should read it).

But despite this knowledge that we are reading different and not less, my desire to read more books and less social networks hasn’t changed. I am now trying to read smarter, to find time to lock myself away from digital distractions and to get lost in a book for 20 mins or an hour. Simply because it is relaxing, and fun, and the internet will keep on tweeting and facebooking without me.

Being Yourself

I was asked by a fellow student President today about what defines me.

Well my immediate response was:

  • Computers/Programming
  • Tramping
  • Church

I was then asked how much of that I was doing this year given how busy I was.

My response was very muted because all three have been essentially zero. I have started on a computer science project but haven’t touched it in about two months. I have been tramping twice but that is it all my outdoors exercise this year. And church, well I have been twice, I have been to youth group three times as well but given that a quarter of the year has gone by I have not done much of the things that define me.

I was just reading something someone else I know had written, it was a list of goals. The only problem I noticed with this list of goals was that the majority of them actually had nothing to do with the definition of this person and instead were most of the things that this person’s friends define themselves through. So that made me think. Should we be defining ourselves in who we are or who we could pretend to be by copying the acts of others?

I don’t think we would achieve much more then heartache by trying to take the defining aspects of others and stuff them into our lives. Because at the end of the day we are all unique and all different. If we were all the same we would be boring!

Now I am not saying that we should not have goals and not have role models. However, what I am saying is our goals should be what we can achieve and our role models should be people that we want to be like; not clone.

Life. It is a celebration of diversity not of similarity.