Our Reading Lives

Why I Took Reading Apps Off My Phone

About a month or so ago, my spouse noticed that the Samsung tablet was on sale. I had been in a market for a new tablet since my LG one was seven years old and essentially a paperweight at this point, and the price was way too nice to skip this deal, so we ordered one for me. When he asked me what I planned on doing when I got it, my immediate response was, “I’m going to remove all the reading apps from my phone.”

I imagine you’re giving me the same look he did, but there is a method to my madness here. In fact, I had been wanting to move to just reading ebooks on either my Paperwhite or a tablet for a while. It’s one of the reasons I was so bummed when my LG tablet finally kicked the bucket. 

“You know, you could just read a physical book.”

Well, you’re not wrong there. But to me, reading is reading. Whether it’s on paper, a screen, or in audio format, it still counts. And believe me, I have no shortage of books in any format to read, save for maybe the last one. But I also have a lot of books that I’ve obtained over the years across multiple reading apps. While Kindle has the lion’s share, I’ve recently started to use Google Play as well. Let’s not forget the Libby and Hoopla app for library loans. All of which are easier to all have on one tablet. 

I did say earlier there was a method, or rather reasonings, for this mindset. So, without further delay, here are some of the reasons why I personally made this choice in my reading life. 

The Larger Screen

While my eyes have never been what you call great (I’ve worn glasses since kindergarten), they’re also getting older along with me. I lovingly joke about my old lady eyes all the time because it’s a very real thing. There are physical books out there that I cannot read simply because the print is too small and it’s too much of a strain. Don’t be mistaken; I’m not sad or upset about it. After all, it just is what it is. 

As previously mentioned, I’ve purchased a lot of digital books, and I do want to at least attempt to read them all. But sometimes looking at the small phone screen, especially after a day of looking at a large computer screen, was extra straining on my eyes. With my Paperwhite and my new tablet, not only is the screen larger, but I have the added bonus of adjusting the font size.

True, you can adjust the font on the phone in said reading apps. But if it’s to the point where there are only five sentences per page because of how big the letters need to be…it may be time to give up that ghost. And I was almost getting to that point with my phone. It was getting less convenient to read on it. It was also a vicious cycle. Since I had books I wanted to read on there, I felt like I had to make the effort to read them any time I had my phone in hand. But since reading was more work on it, I almost never wanted to. Which leads directly into my other reasoning.

Phone Fun

Put down the pitchforks! I’m not saying reading isn’t fun. It is and it’s supposed to be. I’ve always said if you’re not enjoying reading a specific book, put it down. Unless it’s for a grade, don’t force yourself to read anything. Life’s too short.

That said, it is also easy to fall into the trap of reading feeling like an obligation even when you enjoy it. This likely stems from the various reading challenges that pop up at the beginning of each year. There are also situations where, if you’re like me, you acquire books at a faster rate than you can consume them. It can feel like you should be reading every free moment you get because you have all the books to read. 

It’s easier to fall into this mindset when you think that you can put reading apps on your phone. So you can read while you’re jogging, riding in the car, or even during boring family dinners when you’d rather be at home in your PJs. The other side of that coin is that it can make you feel like if you’re not actively using your phone to text or call someone, then you should be reading. 

This makes reading an obligation. And nine times out of ten, anything that is an obligation isn’t fun. Even if you started it with that intention, it quickly loses the joy. 

I love being able to mindlessly scroll through the different social media platforms, or getting lost in TikToks for hours on end. When I use my phone for these things, it’s a mental break from my mundane day-to-day life. As much as I like reading, it is still a mental exercise. That is why some people can’t read before bed. If they do, the next thing they know, they’re done with their book. And it’s also 15 minutes before their alarm is going to go off and they have to get ready for work. 

When I first got a smartphone, I was over the moon to have my Kindle reading app on it. Now I’m content with it gone. Not only does it give me more room for pictures and videos, but I’m also not walking around with something that is making me feel obligated to read if I get a few free moments and only have my phone. 

More Socializing

Remember what I said above about boring family functions and wanting to take a break to read? Let’s be honest; that would happen even if you were with people you wanted to hang out with. It’s easy to be a servant to our screens. It’s something that there have been countless studies on. There’s a reason that someone felt the need to invent a cell phone lock box for just such get togethers. 

And if you’re in the middle of an engaging book, it’s that much easier to fall into that trap, no matter where you are. Having no reading apps on your phone helps to almost remove that temptation completely. At this point you may be saying, “You can just easily add it back to your phone,” which is true. 

But it’s a very involved process to do that on the sly. You have to download the app, log in with your credentials, and then pick a book to download. It will be fairly obvious you’re not engaging. So if you’re one that tries to keep it hidden, chances are you will fail. 

You may counter with, “There’s still social media.” Also true. But as mentioned above, those are less involved mentally. You can mindlessly be scrolling while still engaging in the discussion. If you start reading at a get together, that’s a different story. It’s very easy to get sucked into the book and ignore everything else. I have had this happen with some friends before, and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. I know that if it annoys me when I am on the receiving end, voracious book dragon I am, I can be fairly confident that my friends feel the same way. 

Another added bonus to this links back to the first point I mentioned. A larger screen means a larger device. And while it is more convenient than, say, a laptop to cart around, it’s still not quite as convenient as a phone. Which means that, unless I know I’m going somewhere for long stretches of time (as in overnight sleepover stretches), I am more likely to leave the tablet at home. That way I have less stuff to be mindful of, and can be more engaged in the discussions around me.

Conclusion

And there you have it. Those pretty much sum up the reasons I decided to move all the reading apps off my phone. And honestly? I’m loving it. I find myself putting my phone down to read more now than I did before. I’m not quite sure what the connection is there, but it works for me, especially since I am a bit behind on my personal reading goals and we’re in the final stretch of 2021. 

Now, I know that it is trading one screen for another. And it’s probably easier on my eyes to read either a physical book or my Paperwhite. But, for me, the benefits outweigh whatever drawbacks there may be. And in the grand scheme of things, it’s not just about reading what you like; it’s also reading how you like. 

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