What was the last actual, physical book you read? If you’re struggling for an answer, please keep reading. (Note: This does not count as a book.)
Screens can be irritating. I stare at one—sometimes even two—all day for work, and my eyes burn by the end of the day if I don’t take breaks. The fact that I occasionally hurt my eyes due to prolonged focus on words and GIFs makes me feel terrible about myself, and I feel even more guilty when I go straight home and watch TV. That just means I’ve spent a whole day staring at different bright squares. To balance this out, I’ve decided to make an effort to read books after work instead. My informal goal is to finish 12 books this year. If that number seems laughable to you, maybe you should read this book next, genius.
To be clear, I do read. I read every day—news articles and other assorted features online. But they’re on a screen. A book, however, is not on a screen. There’s no obnoxious, ornamental longform format that makes it feel like you’re scrolling in place until the next panel shows up. Get that mess out of here. Give me physical pages, and photos in the middle of the book, if appropriate. I accept that I’m channeling the ghost of Andy Rooney.
Try it out. If moving at a pace of one book a month is too much, set the bar lower. If it’s child’s play, aim higher. The length of the book doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a book, and you’re reading it.
The book choices are the easy, fun part—just find topics that interest you. I prefer non-fiction sports books, but I’m trying to mix up my reading list; the majority will be non-fiction, but not exclusively sports. I’ve recently read Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson (which was 100 pages too long but still okay) and George Plimpton’s Paper Lion (with a cameo from then-Lions safety Dick LeBeau), and I’m currently reading Julia Scheeres’s A Thousand Lives. (It’s about this place called Jonestown—no spoilers!) I don’t have all 12 picked out, but I’m using friends’ suggestions and the internet to find candidates. You have friends and the internet, too. Use them. Then, get off the internet.
And don’t check your phone every three pages, either.
I don’t like carrying around books, you whine. Get one of those e-readers that supposedly doesn’t strain your eyes as much, then. But I don’t have time. I have to drive a long distance for work. This is supposed to be an after-work activity, but if you’re going to split hairs like this, audiobooks are fine. That’s not my thing, but go wild. Podcasts are not books, however. There’s a difference.
If this challenge seems overwhelming, simplify it. Start with one book. Finish it. Find another book. Read it to completion. Continue this process at your own pace, forever.
Oh, and get a good bookmark. I use game ticket stubs.
Photo of Joan Crawford reading a book: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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