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!