David Mikics, writing in the New York Times, reports recent research suggests that reading books is an important aspect of coming to know who we are. It is a private experience that is best done without distractions, i.e. all of your attention capacity is employed on the book [see my post entitled ‘Silence is golden‘ on January 14th, 2014 for more on attention capacity]. Our brains can achieve a much deeper level of thought and engagement when they are focussed on a single task without distractions. This just does not happen when reading on-line because there are too many distractions. Some research has shown that office-workers are distracted every three minutes and that it takes about 20 minutes to achieve a high level of engagement in a task. So it is easy to see the attraction for bosses of replacing white-collar workers by smart machines [see my post entitled ‘Smart Machines‘ on February 26th, 2014].
But David Mikics suggests that reading a novel is important for deeper reasons associated with learning lessons about humanity that are not available elsewhere. Novels take us on a journey with another self and allow us to look into people’s inner lives. None of this can be achieved reading short blogs or watching short videos on-line and is perhaps why reading a good novel on holiday is such a cathartic and popular activity.
But don’t stop reading my blog instead click the ‘follow’ button if you have not already and then you can be distracted every Wednesday!