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How Do We Break Our Internet Habit and Read More Books?

Johann Thorsson

Staff Writer

Johann Thorsson is a native of Iceland, but spends much of his time in Bookland. He has lived in a few parts of the world but currently lives in Iceland with a pretty woman and a mischievous son who resembles Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) more each day. He has a complicated but ultimately useless degree in bioinformatics from a very pretty college in England. His favorite books are 1984, Flowers for Algernon and The English Patient. He hopes one day to call himself a writer without feeling like he's just fooling himself. Blog: Johann Thorsson - On Book and Writing Twitter: @johannthors

Do you sometimes feel like the internet is taking up just a bit too much of your time? Do you ever mean to spend the evening doing something productive but somehow fall into a stupor of browser tabs and information-binging?

*checks to see if information-binging is a word*

*spends 2 hours on Wikipedia, ending on an article about politics in Oklahoma*

Where was I? Oh yeah, the internet and its ability to steal time and attention.

So, there was a question on Reddit’s book subreddit by user fishmael (great user name) that caught my attention:

Do you ever feel that you have to pull yourself away from your computer in order to read?

My answer is yes. A big ol’ definitive yes. The best reading for me these days is the half-hour bus ride to work, and a few minutes before falling asleep at night. Other than that, I often intend to read, but somehow end up internetin’ for a whole evening.

But how do we break our bad internet habits and improve our reading time?

The users of reddit/r/books have some answers:

reddit books

User thefrenchcranyon:

I had to “re-educate” myself to read long books. I’ve been reading for as long as I remember, and studied literature in uni, but with the Internet, I found it became harder and harder to focus on those long novels I used to love.

Read different scientific explanations that it’s because the way we have of surfing the net trains our brains to scan the information, rather than delve into it like it does in traditional reads.

I’m still a bit bummed when I catch myself checking how many pages left to the end of a chapter or to the end of a book. Though when I find a book that I just can’t put down, it makes it that much better in comparison. 🙂


Now I also schedule time to read and keep various books around. When I get home from work and from 9-10, I read for an hour during both intervals.sometimes I read a novel, sometimes a comic book, sometimes I read nonfiction, sometimes I just get lost in Hitchhiker’s for a bit.


Just turn off your monitor and cell phone, and do it. Most of the “ADD” is purely self-induced, and if you have some willpower for a little bit you should have no trouble getting over it.


That’s why I prefer going outside to read. Assuming the weather is nice, when you sit down on a bench in the park there is nothing that can stop you from reading. I just can’t do it at home.


Yep, it’s why I could never read on a tablet. My favorite thing about the Kindle is that it only does one thing!


Where before my lunches consisted of a sandwich and reddit, now I read a few chapters while I eat my sandwich. Similarly, if I have a couple of free hours over the weekend I might have vegged out on the Internet, now I’ll read a couple of hundred pages. I wholeheartedly look forward to reading now, and miss it if I go a few days without.

It’s now about 6 months later and I’ve read 38 books. I honestly would have read more, but there have been some massive novels on that list. At least 10 of the 38 books have been over 700 pages (I’m looking at you WoT)

And finally, Kafqesque calls me on the hypocrisy:

That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. Thanks, now I’m going to read my book.

*turns off computer*

*reaches for book*


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