January 15, 2019

Reading on the clock

Reading on the clock Reviewed by on . Rating: 3.5

Has the digital life changed our mind and the experience of reading? Have a look at this article from The New Yorker.
Don’t clock how long reading takes!


When I was assigned to read “Anna Karenina” during the summer before my senior year of high school, I had no idea how long it would take. Daunted by its length, I put off reading it and put off reading it until, by the end of August—having only reached the beginning of Anna and Vronsky’s affair — I knew I wouldn’t be near finished by the time school started up again.

This “miscalculation” was mainly the result of procrastination, but also maybe the tiniest bit a problem of technology: back then, in the pre-digital age, physical books had a somewhat vague relationship to time. If you were a lazy teen-ager with an eight-hundred-and-fifty-page tome to get through, this nebulousness could work against you. It could also provide one of reading’s greatest pleasures: the feeling of getting so sucked into a fictional world that when you finally looked up from your book, dazed, you’d lost all sense of how much time had passed.

As we’ve transitioned from print to screens, we’ve started clocking how long reading takes: Kindles track the “time left” in the books we’re reading; Web sites include similar estimates with their articles (total reading time for “Anna Karenina”: eighteen hours and twenty-two minutes); in June, Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, published a book with a stamp on the cover advertising it as a “5 hour read.” These features all feel a bit dystopian; if Jonathan Franzen’s next novel gets stamped with a “10 hour read” label, it will confirm all his worst suspicions about what’s wrong with the modern world.


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What does it mean? Click and find out!

daunted (v) to abate the courage of; discouraged
to put off (v) to delay doing something, especially because you do not want to do it
procrastination (n) the act of procrastinating; putting off or delaying or defering an action to a later time
tome (n) a book, especially a large or scholarly one
nebulousness (n) vague, not developed or clear enough to describe
to clock (v) to measure or record the speed at which a person or vehicle is travelling
dystopian (adj) a situation in which everything in society is extremely bad


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