Breakout your pitchforks: I don’t read.

As in books. Those paper things. The non-fiction business variety. The last one may have been the 7 Habits of Effective Title Writers are Owed Some Royalties back in college.

Why the hell not?

1. Ain’t got that kinda time.
someecards.com - Why is everyone always offering to lend me self-help books?
I’m a slow reader, takes me forever to scan a post or magazine article. I haven’t read a novel for fun in ages; I no longer subscribe to print editions of well, anything.

Working 60+ hour weeks between work working, networking for business either online or in person, client working, running the business admin working – my free time is precious.

It’s hard enough stepping away from the Twitter and the email and there is ALWAYS some epic stuff going doing down on the Internets!!

When I shut it down, that is it. Sitting around reading the latest and greatest tomes on PR, marketing, social media measurement – even if highly recommended by someone I trust – tempting, yet not my idea of a good time.

2. As a matter of fact, it IS all about me.

This is what I think Twitter and RSS and everything are gearing us towards: curators of our own little worlds. See Neicole Crepeau for details. I pick what I want, glance at something that may catch nt eyes and leave the rest. Which yes makes me horribly myopic and self-centered, so I step out for engagement.

News: Atlanta news, sports, business, small business, the latest Apple updates for new iToys, the mindless chatter about celebrities I pretend to be above caring. Transparent Disclosure: When I’m out and buy a print paper, I opt for a USA TODAY vs. an Atlanta Journal-Constitution or New York Times. Not because have a greater interest in general, national news – I just like the puzzles better.

Industry: blogs about public relations, social media and marketing are good and plenty. Check my blogroll and tweets; I’m covered.

Relaxation: I go back to magazines and blogs, message boards and forums and good gravy the Interwebz are dangerous. If I have an itch for something, I search to scratch and find more than I bargained for.

3. Less is More.

I like good writing, I do and I read all the time: blogs, magazines and news. I’ve read 6-page (web pages) articles in the NYT on occasion. But it’s the 500- 1000 word blog post or magazine article that gives me what I need in the time I have. In convenient bite-site forms.

Throw a search stick and you’ll hit an article on anything, be it a rant on public relations or a recap of one of my TV shows. Reading less of one, I actually get a lot more of many others.

Feel free to think less of me, or recommend that ONE book that’ll change my mind and help my business.

Photo credit. Beware the Someecard: the touchy feely self-help yoga crap that is supposed to be a motivational kick in the ass, only tends to annoy me. A lot. FWIW.

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45 thoughts on “Breakout your pitchforks: I don’t read.

  1. As long as I can remember, I have been reading books. Sometimes more (childhood, university years), sometimes less. Sometimes classic books. Sometimes non-fiction. Sometimes business books. Sometimes fluff (a guilty pleasure is Sophie Kinsella books).

    Beyond the act of reading something great (a book or passage that oozes into my soul and sticks with me long past finishing the book), my favourite thing is cross-pollination in the arts.

    Like seeing the fifth adaptation (or whatever) of Jane Eyre in film, and still loving the story and the plucky young heroine who overcomes so many societal and economic odds. Or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale turned into an opera–who knew the essential creepiness would come across in operatic song, as well? Or Joan Didion’s breathtaking The Year of Magical Thinking memoir being equally outstanding on stage. (And what are the odds of a man having some sort of medical problem whilst the show was going on, and needing to be rushed to the hospital?!) Or going to a reading of Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture” (at the main Toronto Library–North America’s busiest library system, BTW) and meeting my CBC Radio hero (Age of Persuasion show) and Twittermate, Terry O’Reilly in person. He is as smart, friendly and fun in person, not to mention his wonderful “loamy” voice is genuine–no technological amping up of it.

    Obviously reading (and what I read) is my choice, Davina. Just like your choices are yours to make. My only question to you: if the bulk of your reading time is spent on reading blog posts–exactly how much staying power (and cross-pollination) do you think these posts will have on your life (and work and thought patterns), in future?

    That’s why I’d recommend a diet of balance–maybe cut back a bit on your blog reading, and introduce some time in its place for book reading. In a recent Harvard Business Review Guide on Managing Stress, one of the articles recommended 20 minutes of book reading first thing in the morning, as a great stress reliever.

    1. I used to read books more often Judy. I do need to balance my reading diet, already cutting back elsewhere, no doubt about it. I know what you mean about adaptations, some of them really do find great ways to make it fresh and interesting. Like picks for fluff, and really want to MAKE the time for a few business books. Thanks for your suggestions, much appreciated.

      As to what the blog reading does: it helps me develop my skills; follow trends and learn of tools in my industry that as a solo I might miss; I’ve met great people, expanded my network; mostly a lot of this blogging and commenting does just this: raises questions. It does have me taking a more pragmatic and critical look not only at my business, but where I want to go in my career as well as the life-balance stuff. FWIW.

  2. Hello Davina

    Love this post.

    I skim read books that I have been given. Learned a little of that skill and it helps me a lot.
    Getting down and reading for fun well…

    Again. your post made my day, I don’t feel that bad when I haven’t read three books this week.
    Billy

    1. Don’t feel bad Billy. Would that I had a better speed reading ability.. alas, not so much. I feel kinda lame not reading, so figured it was time I fessed up and did something about it. Thanks.

  3. Ahem. I’ve been stalling for a while because I haven’t actually read much in recent times beyond ebooks, blogs, comic strips, news, and the pieces I have to edit either until a few weeks ago. At least, not on the secular side. I purchased a bunch of copywriting and editing books from Amazon, and am wading my way through. So far I can recommend “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss (somewhat of an oldie but definitely a goodie–witty, clear, and not too long). I have plenty of others waiting in the wings to be purchased, though!

    If you want to dive into some fiction, I’ve put away The Three Musketeers, the Count of Monte Cristo (read before I saw the movies!), short detective stories by G.K Chesterton, and the Star Wars trilogy (which I suspect you’ve already read) only to pick them up again several times.

    Thanks for building this reading list for us all, Davina–I’m adding to that wishlist. And I shall forever recall this place as the World of Brewer ;).

    1. Heh.. guess it’ll need an acronym.. WoB. 😉 I’ve read most of the Grisham books, used to read all the Anne Rice.. lots of stuff. Just ran out of time and ‘business’ stuff sort fell by the wayside. Hopefully I can do something about that this year, with a few good suggestions. Thanks.

  4. Davina

    I was gonna post a list in the comments – but it’s growing. And Tristan at Blogging Bookshelf wanted some recommendations. And so did Steve Scott too. So I’m gonna create a book post for ya tomorrow with some recommendations.

    Paul

  5. Davina, another classic look into the ‘world of Brewer’, and as always– it was fun.

    Like you, I don’t read super long stuff anymore. I guess the reasons are the same. But I also wonder if I’ve just trained my mind to read 1500 words or less, and then move on. For some reason I have a much harder time reading a book when I sit down now than when I sat down 5 years ago. Honestly, I wonder if all this short stuff won’t spell the end for novels and the like….Hmmm, I guess we’ll see.

    Thanks for writing like you do, it’s always a blast Davina. 🙂

    Marcus
    Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..11 Hours to Change a Company Forever- A Story about Business and Life

    1. ‘World of Brewer’ – what an weird little theme park that would be?! I’d like to read more of the long stuff Marcus, but I’d like to read more of everything else too.. something’s got to give. At the same time, I know I’m missing out so I figured I’d as for a few tips. Thanks.

  6. Davina, I’m a crazy-mad reader…multiple books on the go at any given time, wild variety of topics, both fiction and non-fiction, business and pleasure reading. I often go to thrift stores and pick up good old-fashioned bound books (yes, the paper ones:) for a quarter or a dollar, and my relaxation includes browsing bookstores, used and new.

    I think sometimes the book finds me, rather than vice versa. The latest example? I was in a used bookstore with thousands of books, and the spine of a book caught my eye among the sea of spines. It simply jumped out at me, and I bought it as a birthday gift for a friend who spent time in the Arctic. She loved it! I then borrowed it, and was captivated. It’s called:

    “North to the Night, a Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic” by Alvah Simon. It was a “can’t put it down” book.

    So, it’s not about being a slacker or bringing out pitchforks, Davina…to each his/her own. But I’d be lost without books. They are treasures to me. Cheers! Kaarina
    Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..Can’t- Don’t- Won’t

    1. I’ve always enjoyed books and reading Kaarina .. except maybe that “Heart of Darkness” stuff in college. 😉 Now it’s simply a question of time and interest; I DO read a lot .. online. I’ll keep your book in mind, thank you so much for the suggestion.

  7. Funny Davina – we are very much alike when it comes to reading. If it weren’t for blogs, I wouldn’t read anything but proposals and contracts 🙂

    There’s only so much time in a day and I have a family to tend to as well.

    It seems to work for me for now.

    My wife is an avid reader, she does enough reading for both of us 🙂

    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Mark Harai recently posted..Three Personal Development Mistakes and How To Fix Them

    1. Aw… thanks for that Mark. I DO read, quite a bit and would that I had time to read more, and more variety. So I’m trying to make the time, see if I can mix it up a bit. Enjoy your weekend too my friend. 🙂

  8. I don’t read as much as I want to- but given the chance I consume and devour books. I do so for personal and professional reasons. The education and the escape all drive me to read and read more.

    I produce enormous amounts of content for work and for pleasure and I do so quickly. I attribute much of that to my reading. It stimulates my mind and provides connections that I can use to improve my communication skills.
    Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..Why Do You Blog

    1. I used to read books a lot more Jack, then just had to put that time elsewhere. I’m reading more than I ever have, it’s just mostly online now.. for all the reasons you mentioned. So I feel slack not reading books, esp. the biz stuff I ‘should’ be.. but then I see posts I want to read – like yours, know that’ll get a little of my time tomorrow. Now I have to quote Calvin and Hobbes, “never enough time to do all the nothing I want” though of course, reading is most certainly something. 🙂

  9. Davina,

    I would agree with Paul that books are important (speaking of non-fiction at the moment), but not because there are not great writers in the blogosphere, but because blogs are different than books. For the most part, good books are more complete, more carefully edited, more focused than good blog posts. In fact, good blog posts are often incomplete by design to encourage comments. Also, as someone who is online regularly, I personally find I can concentrate better on a book without emails and links to side topics and Twitter interrupting. Blogs are conversations, books are lectures. Sometimes its good just to listen.
    Adam Toporek recently posted..Nonprofit Spotlight- Jodi’s Voice and Stalking Legislation

    1. I like the conversation vs. lecture comparison, except.. I do better with seminars (interactive) rather than a passive lecture. And I like different, I know I ‘should’ be reading at least a little different.. that’s why I wrote this post Adam. Too many choices, not enough time so I thought I’d ask for a few recommendations. If you have one, please share.. and thanks.

    1. Never said it’s not worthwhile, Riley.. didn’t mean to imply that. Just that lately I don’t have or want to make the time. And yes I feel guilty about it, hence my blog confession. 😉 I used to read quite a bit (fiction), but the business stuff is just a challenge .. then there’s what I might want to be reading vs. what I need to be reading vs. what else I should be doing. By all means, if you have a book that’ll make me want to read more, help me and my business please share. And thanks.

  10. There’s certainly no problem with you – but I definately read other things besides items that reside online for pleasure and enjoyment.

    When I go to bed – I read. I fall asleep reading.
    When I wake up – I read.
    When I’m eating breakfast – I’m reading. The paper sometimes. Blog posts others.
    When I’m riding in a car – I’m reading.

    Pretty much, always, reading. I love to read. I would recommend books like Les Miserables, Lord of the Rings, Biographies of any sort, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Those are just some of my many favorites.

    I could suggest more if you’d like. 😉
    Christian Hollingsworth recently posted..The Future Is As Bright As Your Faith

    1. Getting jealous of all you mobile readers Christian; even with the drugs I cannot do it. (Fingers crossed that we have calm-ish seas on my next cruise, so I CAN do a little reading.)

      Read a lot of classics like these in school, many more are on my someday list. It’s not that I haven’t read but lately, my time is so divided elsewhere so that if I make a book a priority, I guess I’m wanting to make sure it’s really worth it.

  11. Hey Davina

    Kudos for the honesty – but whatever the opposite of Kudos is, you get that for non-reading!

    Here’s why you should try and read some…one of the ways of getting better at writing/blogging/content marketing/twittering and all that stuff is by reading at a higher level than you currently write at.

    Now you’re a pretty good writer – so that’s a good platform to build on. But there aren’t many bloggers who are GREAT writers. (I’ve found two – and believe me I look just about every day). So you won’t find the ‘diet’ you need on the ol’ blogosphere.

    That’s why you need to read real books.

    I’ll happily make some recommendations for ya….but first I’d need to get an idea of what you’re trying to achieve, what areas you’re trying to get better at. That sort of thing. (Or you could pick something non-related to your business, but something you enjoy, and find the best writers of that kind of content).

    If you find reading hard, maybe audio is the way to go. If you have regular trips – car, train, plane, walk, whatever – then audio might do the job for you.

    Tell me what you’re interested in and I’ll give you some recommendations.

    Paul
    paul wolfe recently posted..How To Price an eBook In The Kindle Age

    1. Appreciate your candor Paul.. who says we all agree?! Love it! I’ll disagree that there aren’t great writers online but will agree that it is a very different style of writing AND that I am certainly limiting myself this way. So YES I need to change my diet, expand my palate and try some new things.

      Not sure I’m looking for anything in particular other than as you say.. what I CAN’T get online. If going for business, something that’s plain spoken and straight up that doesn’t hide behind jargon, posture with multisyllabic SAT words. If it’s more ‘lifestyle’ it better tell me the secret of how, not just give motivational quips. If fun and fiction, anything I might not consider otherwise. Thanks so much.

  12. LOL! I love you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. But, are you saying you don’t read fiction, either? I totally get the non-fiction, business stuff. Enough is enough. But fiction is a great escape. But then, so are card games and wine and grilled cheese.
    Gini Dietrich recently posted..The Website Is Alive and Well

    1. Fiction is a great escape, I just feel like a slacking slacker who slacks when I read for fun Gini. 😉 Somehow time-shifting my TV viewing makes me feel less so, as I can at least multitask that and also get something, anything else ‘done.’

      BTW Cards, wine and grilled cheese nights are always fun; lost at the cards (again!) but the food and wine and friends more than made up for it.

        1. Well there is that, we don’t have the single focus attention anymore. Guess it’s some kind of digital ADHD… Something else for me to work on, along with making time to read a book once in a while.

      1. Here’s the thing with fiction, though – it helps me be more creative, and that helps in my work. So I devour it. Most of the “business” books out there are so badly-written, I don’t have the patience to try to unravel them. Besides, as you say, I can pretty much get most of that stuff – I think – from blogs, Twitter, etc. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but that had slowed down a bit. Ever since I got my Kindle, though, I’m back in the game, but primarily fiction. It probably also helps that I’m a very quick reader (real reading, not just scanning).

        1. I like fiction too Shonali.. like I said, the ‘guilt’ factor, not enough time and something has to give. The business stuff can be written in ways that’s hard for me to appreciate; I’ve read blog excerpts of a few and they are too much like a textbook. Anyway, I’m planning to step up my reading, slow as it is.. expand beyond blogs as I can. Thanks.

  13. Nah baby, I still luv ya; I don’t think any less at all………….:)

    I USED to read quite a bit; like you, since I have immersed myself in this crazy little blogospere most of my reading time is what I see from my community. And yes, the 500-1000 word variety is preferable. Myopic, maybe but it’s not like I’m not learning anything.

    They came out w/ Reader’s Digest for a reason, huh?

    Good to see you today, hope all is well in the A T L.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..Billy goes Hollywood – my attempt at a vlog

    1. Reader’s Digest is a good one Bill. I was also thinking CliffsNotes or Master Plots; not going just for the bullet points and McNuggets, but just… self-contained morsels. Yet it’s really more than that as many a post by friends like Marcus, Gini, Mark Schaefer are certain to expand and expound our reading via the posts and the wealth of comments. Like I said, in this regard less may actually be more for me (though always open to suggestions). Thanks.

  14. I am currently reading “Enchantment” by Guy Kawasaki. Very useful book. Great tips for business and life in there. Even with such a good book, I read in my office (a/k/a the bathroom) or on the bus if I happen to be going somewhere. Other than that I have no time either.

    I am either working, networking, spending time with my son, hanging with the bf, or God forbid – SLEEPING! So yeah, I do read, but only in short bursts. 🙂

    I also find time to read and comment on blogs too. And I manage to shave my legs and shower while standing on my head! (oh, I made that part up – about the standing on my head, not the showering)
    Nancy Davis recently posted..When Love Turns To Obsession

    1. I can’t read in a moving vehicle.. makes me sound like I’m full of excuses but can’t do it. If it’s a smooth flight, then maybe. I might have to take your cue Nancy and designate a ‘reading’ room.. there’s some multitasking, time management there for sure. 😉

  15. No pitchforks here Davina! We all do what works best for us. I’m a bit of a nut, so I tend to read a lot, usually 3 books at a time (one audiobook in my car, one on my Kindle, and one hard copy). But that’s just me. When life gets in the way, I adapt and read less.

    If you want to read more, but truly don’t have the time, you might want to check out audiobooks. I’ve been a subscriber to Audible.com for more than 10 years and I love it. They offer much more than books too: newspapers, magazines, radio shows, etc. It’s perfect for the car.

    I won’t give a recommendation, but if you ever need one, just ask. My tastes run from Pulitzer prize winning nonfiction to teen vampire romances, and everything in between!
    Marianne Worley recently posted..How I Put My Food Budget on a Diet

    1. I can’t do audio. 🙁 I can barely pay attention to a podcast or video interview while it’s playing as I work on other things. In the car.. I don’t even answer calls as I’m too busy avoiding the maniacs on the Atlanta highways, wouldn’t try to focus on a book. I can’t read a chapter or two a day.. then let it sit for 2-3 weeks as I won’t remember a thing. Guess I’m a slow or visual learner Marianne, and it takes me a little longer to get the gist of things.

      I’ve already confessed the last ‘books’ I read – and yes I put these in air quotes – may have been the first two Twilights; not a fan, though I love “The Vampire Diaries” on TV. IDK.. I like reading but somehow – unless I’m on vacation – feel guilty or unproductive to just chill and read a long book.

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