March 06, 2005

The Habit of Reading

Our constant state is "so many books, so little time". AKMA has one of his delightful "random thoughts" on this lament on the way back from the library.

...since I no longer have time to read, I go through the motions by taking books out, and then returning them a week or so later, as though I’d read them...This will not do — no longer. I’m about to head upstairs, where I will read a chapter or two... before I go to sleep, no matter what. I will learn to read again; I will not give in to attention entropy.
For me, it's about the habit. I need to maintain a habit of reading at certain times and occassions. Very often, when I need a catalyst for getting back into reading, I read something with no immediate practical value--part or all of a novel or something else. (Robert Jordan is currently filling the role). Invariably, this translates in my behavioral pattern as "reading produces more reading." Just my 2¢. Here's where the personal organizer (iCal and the like) sure can help establish a pattern. You can premeditate periods of the morning, day and evening when you normally can slip in a bit of reading. Then add that into your scheduler. A pop-up such as:
can go a long way. Update: Mark Goodacre added this contemporary version of the illusion of reading which really hit home for me:
Or now, one can even save a journal article onto one's hard drive, the environmentally friendly way not to read an article.
If I had a dime for everytime... The problem is, the article services I use download .pdf file with names such as "A0334_d.pdf", so the result is I now have dozens upon dozens of .pdf files on my computer that I have no idea what they're about. I think a real solution to this is
  1. Always take the extra second to save items in an appropriate folder, and
  2. Set your web browser to always prompt you to rename and manually place downloading .pdf files.

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