Ok, to clarify, that doesn’t mean that I just learned how to read. Instead, I’m proclaiming that I finished a bona-fide BOOK. Start-to-finish. No, it was not the first book that I ever read, but, it was the first non-reference, non-graphical, non-audio book that I completed in what seems a long long time.
Up until now completing any type of book that wasn’t assigned to me for occupational reasons seemed a distant goal. I began acquiring a collection of books borrowed, bought, and gifted which slowly transitioned into a backlog. One day I was hit with the depressing realization that I had not read a complete non-technical/tutorial book start-to-finish in a number of years. The beginnings of this trend are unclear to me, but reasons started to become apparent: my attentions began to be pulled in a multitude of directions. Not all of these are negative – I’m a father, and I have more responsibilities at work – but there are more nefarious ones as well: too many digital distractions, gadgets to play with, and other less admirable uses of my time. Audiobooks became a regular habit for my commute and long-distance drives, but I simply fell out of the practice of reading text for pleasure.
It took an act of will – I had to find a text that (1) I would actually be interested in, (2) was not too long, and (3) was available on Kindle. Otherwise the book would be placed on a shelf and inconveniently forgotten before too long. Criteria #3 was necessary for me as I would already have the Kindle software closely available to me on a multitude of devices. Number 2 works to accommodate my shortened attention span, and #1 should speak for itself.
(Just for reference, the book I chose was Stewart Copeland’s Strange Things Happen. It was an entertaining, if not quite comprehensive, retrospective of Copeland’s life and endeavors both inside and outside the Police. Personally, I would have liked a bit more detail on items to which I’m more personally attached such as the Equalizer soundtrack story and some more of the final days of the Police, but I’m sure that’s been covered quite thoroughly in other publications and forums.)
The next step was to actually set aside time to read – that meant no movies, no games, no television. I chose bedtime as that seemed to be when I could be the most consistent with my behavior. Also with the Kindle, I started building the habit of reading whenever I found myself in a situation with nothing else to do such as during air travel, waiting rooms, and so forth. It really took a few weeks to become regular on the process, but buy that time, I surprisingly found myself at the end of the book. One feature I like with the Kindle is that it’s easier to make yourself oblivious to your progress through the book.
So now I’m getting ready to start on Book Number 2. I already have a few candidates lined up. Should I go with a piece of science fiction (one of my guiltier pleasures) or a biography of a historical figure? It’s a really a good and exciting feeling to have these choices to make again!