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Thursday 13 July 2017

Readers with miserable attention spans: the oxymoron of our times

I log in to my social media accounts. Scratch that, I never logged out.
So, I hop on to social media for my daily dose of words. There are reams of stories there: micro-fiction, nano tales, haikus, memes and flash fiction.
I will lick through some Terribly Tiny Tales, or chew some Scribbled Stories. Might swallow a lot of memes and digest some flash fiction. It should be no more than 200 words. Two sentences, abrupt and unjust as they may be, should do the trick. You can find word count more clearly embossed on your screen than your own words in Word processors and website templates.

Because reading is now measured.

I click on a link that leads me to an important piece of long-form journalism. But the first thing I notice there is "6 min read". They are telling me it would take me 6 minutes to read this. Well, dear publisher, are you so sure of the mediocre quality of content on your page that you know I am not going to hover over a sentence I find well-constructed? You know for sure that I am not going to read such a long piece if it takes up more time of my day than my daily dump does? Of course you do. You care about content, not words. Words don't sell. Content does.

Because reading is now measured.

Savoruing a book, flipping through its pages, underlining quotes that you like, making a note of those quotes in a special diary, dog-earing pages, inserting multiple bookmarks, putting up post-it notes within pages, finishing the book, going back to these quotes, reliving the story in snippets: the stupid old-school reader seems to have the luxury of time. I think she doesn't have a goodreads book challenge to finish. Someone will tell her about it. Or it will slip into conversations innocuously when she'll be asked how many books she has read this year.

Because reading is now measured.

And yet.
We are all readers. Our loyalties lie with words. But we are not ready to see pages wither away, the book spines breaking apart, the words fading away, the trickle of blood from a paper cut.
We are all readers, even though reading is now measured.

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

Kritika Narula's favorite books »


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