Can Book Challenges Cure Internet Addiction?

“Reading Woman” by Matthieu Wiegman

I have loved the internet; I have hated the internet. I have been addicted to the internet; I have been ineffably bored by it.  Like many readers, I try to limit my time online.  In 2015, in a  post called   “Your True Self Fries Away,” I examined the problem of blogging addiction.  I wrote:

When I began Mirabile Dictu a few years ago, I resolved to post every day. Why? I still don’t know. I enjoyed the project for the first year. I enjoyed it less last year. And then I found I was reading less because I posted so much. And that’s frightening, because posting is not, in my opinion, the same thing as writing.

It was the stats in my book journal (a Moleskine notebook) that led me to examine my habits.  It changed my reading life.  Is that hyperbole? Well, no, looking at a few pages in my notebook gave me a better picture of my reading than scrolling down a book blog with dozens of posts.   Mind you, I love blogging and I also enjoy reading e-books, but do we lose our humanity if we’re too involved with electronics?  Perhaps we need the tactile experience of writing on paper as a balance to our writing on computers.

Fewer people seem concerned about internet addiction these days:  we’re all so terrified by hurricanes, climate change, and other disasters that the internet is the least of our problems.  But the problem is still there, and in a touching article at Bustle, “A Yearly Reading Challenge Just Might Be The Most Beneficial Bookish Goal You Can Make,” Kerri Jarema writes about battling anxiety with the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  Meeting her goal at the Goodreads Reading Challenge–you type in the number of books you hope to read in a year–has helped her focus on reading books.

Jarema writes,

…if I have learned anything from my personal goals of meditation and social media detox this year, it’s that many humans thrive on singular, focused thinking. On cultivating brains and bodies that are mindful, and living in the present moment. And, actually, the yearly reading goal fits perfectly into that ethos. Because, in the end, you can only read one book at a time. And in order to reach whatever goals you set (reading or otherwise) the only way out is through.

Many bloggers organize their reading around challenges:  for instance, it’s German Literature Month in November, though who is sponsoring it I couldn’t say!    These challenges are not for me,  but Jarema’s article makes me look at them differently: I now understand now how they can help people focus.

Meanwhile, disconnect, breathe deeply, and read.  And if you can do the downward dog while reading, like this blogger whose post on bookish yoga was published at Abebooks, more power to you!

12 thoughts on “Can Book Challenges Cure Internet Addiction?

  1. I have an absolute love/hate relationship with the internet. I am well aware of how much time it takes up, time that in the past would have been spent reading. I also know that writing on paper means that I remember what I have written far better and also seems to lead to more creative thinking. However, because of a back problem I can’t lean over a desk any more, whereas with the help of a stand I can happily type away on an iPad. I also use the stand to keep books at eye level. Hardbacks are fine, but paperbacks can be a challenge. This means that I read a lot on the iPad too because it makes no attempt to curl up at the edges and collapse in a heap on the floor. But if I do that the temptation is always there to just nip over to a news site and see what is happening in the world or check out what the weather is going to be tomorrow and plan if I am going to need to take an umbrella with me.
    On the subject of reading challenges: I can see how they are helpful if you stick to them. Unfortunately my reading tend to be of the serendipitous variety rather than the stickable.

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    • Your stand would be better for all our backs! I do like reading e-books, for the reasons you cite, and also because of the print size.

      I do agree with you about book challenges. I think perhaps those are more helpful for the young, perhaps those who grew up with social media and texting and need it to a point we don’t quite understand.

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  2. I’m the same with the inernet. It takes up a lot of my time, but I’m trying to streamline what I do on it, not always put on the computer, make myself pick up a book instead. Life is getting in the way of the latter at the moment, but for me challenges aren’t an answer. They tend to make me rebellious and I meander through my books with often no real planned direction. I think the occasional Virago month, the two Clubs a year and the occasional linguistic month are all I can manage!!

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    • My Goodreads stats don’t even work, because I never write in the date read. It’s rather mortifying! I can see it would be hard to keep up with that number and the graph.

      On Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 12:06 PM, mirabile dictu wrote:

      >

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  3. I have never understood the use of challenges but as Kaggsy says, I am too rebellious to get along with them. I like to be free in my reading and to pick and choose what I want among my books. Also I tend to make my own links about books and do not wish to be disturbed from them. I already have difficulties with reading groups… Perhaps rebellious is not the right word: better, individualist?

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    • Yes, we’re not necessarily reading what the challenge “leaders” decide, and the categories are almost amorphous sometimes . But I can see that for the social media user the Goodreads Challenge might be a less harmful form of social media.

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  4. A reading challenge is about the last thing I need. It sounds like a surefire way to make me cranky. I need to read exactly what and when I wish. And I’m definitely trying to streamline my internet time.

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  5. I’ve been reading about the slow blogging movement which I find rather charming. Like you, sometimes I love the internet and other times I just like to switch the damn thing off!

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