Books vs. distractions

“Remember books? Remember reading?”

A book would say that to some people.

What would cause someone to stop reading in their leisure time? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Their phone, of course.

You see it all the time in, for example, a doctor’s waiting room. People used to read magazines in waiting rooms (although I have to question the quality of some of those periodicals). Nowadays, waiting rooms don’t even have magazines anymore. People entertain themselves on their phones.

You can even see it while waiting in a long line for the restroom at a service area on the New Jersey Turnpike. People are scrolling on their phones, texting, checking email, or watching a video as they wait.

Such entertainment, while fun, has sadly taken the place of leisure reading for a lot of people.

Sometimes, when I sit on my couch scrolling on my phone, I imagine a novel jumping up to me and grabbing the electronic device, yelling, “Give me that! You two have been spending way too much time together! Remember me? Remember reading? Remember what joy it used to give you?”

It’s very humbling.

Here’s an embarrassing but true story: On a trip to Myrtle Beach one Memorial Day weekend, my husband decided to take a nap in the hotel room before dinner. I went out on our picturesque balcony with my phone and a novel that I had only just started to read. I intended to enjoy the novel, but then I decided to take pictures with my phone and text on my phone and check email on my phone and watch some cool videos on my phone and…sigh.

Yes, I know…the phone should have stayed inside the room. “But what if someone calls?” The classic excuse.

No more excuses. The late afternoon was when I used to immerse myself in novels. Lent is starting on February 22 and I have resolved that during Lent, the late afternoon and early evenings will be spent with a book. And my phone will stay on the table behind the couch. (I am no longer Catholic and I don’t observe Lent every year, but I think it’s still a good time to discipline oneself.)

How about you? What times of the day do you like to read? What do you do about distractions such as your phone?

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