Irate Educator

Invisible Reading Time

Irate Educator

Brandon is the Editor-in-Chief and President of Maglomaniac. He is the author of the Eat Your Serial title Ten Years Gone: Pomp and Circumstance, as well as the columns Child's Play, Nerd's Eye View, Letters to Jeremy, Irate Educator, The Audio Files, and The Dao of Ninjape, among others.

It’s tough finding the time to read. Even with all of today’s advances in e-books, e-readers, laptops, and tablet computers simply finding the time to sit down and escape into your favorite texts can be a daunting task. I know that personally, with young children in the house, and working several jobs, and going back to school for an advanced degree in the fall…finding that time is incredibly difficult and, once found, incalculably precious. There are those times when you are invariably going to read something: on the throne, on a train, in the doctor’s office; but these instances don’t generally amount to much quality time (unless something has gone horribly horribly wrong). Many of us claim that with our busy lives and many obligations that there simply “isn’t enough time to read anymore.” Then again, these may account among “invisible” reading times that we don’t often count as reading.
Invisible reading time could be what you are doing right now. Some people consider blog and article reading online as “reading,” and others don’t. For me, it depends on the content. Some websites I frequent daily, but I don’t consider reading their articles as part of my “reading time” that I generally feel is satisfied when I read a few comics or chapters in a novel or book. Maglomaniac offers a variety of content from politics to fiction and everything in between and outside, sites like ours offer a robust reading experience and our posts aim to be substantial. Some sites don’t offer that same satisfaction.

Regardless of the caliber of the content, the Internet does provide a great deal of text to people on a daily basis. In fact, I’m willing to wager that once factored in, people actually read now than in the past. People don’t typically count the time that they spend on Twitter or Facebook or other forms of social media as reading time, but these are forms of communication that are entirely text based. In my college creative writing course, I assert to my students that the blog and the tweet/status update are quickly replacing the essay and the journal as forms of written record and as a genre of writing. The tweet specifically could be likened to the haiku (in a way) because of the character limitation and it’s similarity to syllabic limitation. This burgeoning genre of writing has a flip side though—it must also be a genre of reading. It cannot be one without the other.

It really begs the question, what do we consider reading time? We can generally whip out the Internet on a mobile device or some sort of portable technology with reading content available either in memory or via wireless connection at any given moment: at work, on the commute, dinner with grandma, whatever.  The time we spend sitting with a printed and bound tome may be what we consider ostensibly to be our sole and sacrosanct reading time, but that changes the content that we have queued and the progress of delivery formats. There is something psychologically satisfying about having that volume in your hand, with the smell of pages ,and the weight of it. The need for information, stories, and escape can be fulfilled just as easily at our desks at work, on the bus, or in the park without carrying it around. Those quick moments we steal  to check our e-mail, look up a sports score, return a Facebook comment, or read a fantastic article by Brandon Melendez and the Maglomaniac Bullpen of authors are just as legitimate. I won’t go so far as to say the LOLcats is the same as Tolkien, because it isn’t, but I do defy you to keep track of how many times you read something online and make a note of it before you make the claim that there “isn’t enough time to read.”

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