I’ve never answered one of the Booking Through Thursday questions, but today the question caught my eye, so maybe today is a good day to start. Here’s the question:
Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.
So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?
Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?
Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?
I’m too much like a “goldilocks” reader for my own comfort. I don’t require perfect conditions, but I require very good ones. I can read when there are distractions around, but I read very slowly when there are — even more slowly than usual. I wish I were the kind of person who could focus well, but I’m not.
It’s rare, actually, that I’m completely absorbed in what I’m reading. I often look up from my book, sometimes to think about a passage, sometimes to notice something about my surroundings, and then my thoughts will wander and I’ll have to drag myself back to the book once again. I’m particularly bad about this when there are people around. I love to watch people, and I can’t help but notice social dynamics, so reading in airports or doctor’s offices is hard (although I do it). I’ll notice if someone starts a conversation, and once that happens, I can’t help but listen in. If people are having an argument, my book becomes useful only as something to hide the fact that I’m eavesdropping.
And I find it hard to quiet my mind to settle into reading. I suspect I’d benefit greatly from meditating regularly — I need to teach myself not to let my thoughts distract me from my book or whatever else. This is particularly hard when the semester is underway and I’ve got lots to think about. I’ll read for a few minutes and then notice that I’m not reading anymore and am thinking instead about how class went that day. Over the course of an evening’s reading, this gets better; by the evening’s end, I’m able to pay closer attention.