Reading without distraction – is it your thing?

Last time I wrote about Neil Gaiman’s lecture on why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. In my post I selected some quotes which I thought were interesting or important. Neil Gaiman was always one of my favourite writers, but now even more. I wish I were there and could listen to it, actually.

I didn’t quote anything about reading without distractions, as it’s something natural for me. And it’s irritating when you’re reading something, lost in the other world, and there’s a phone ring. Don’t you know I’m reading now and you shouldn’t disturb me?! Geez.

A comment by hawkwoman wrote under the lecture published in The Guardian surprised me. The comment was a response to Gaiman’s suggestion.

In his lecture Neil Gaiman said:

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

As hawkwoman said:

Are you kidding, Mr. Gaiman? I know classical music students who these days express a distaste for simply listening to music, they can only stand it if it’s on YouTube and they get a visual as well.

Reading a book without noise, an IPhone next to you, and the TV on is next to impossible for most people today: they can’t bear to be alone with themselves or with silence, never mind alone with merely words or merely music. They can’t drive without talking or texting, walk without talking or texting, go to the loo without talking or texting, or buy groceries without texting or talking.

And you want people to read? Just read?

It’s not just a diminishing source of pleasure: it’s fast becoming a lost art: the ability to lose oneself in a book without any attendant distractions.

What hawkwoman wrote is really surprising for me. I mean, seriously, people can’t read books without distraction? I usually listen to music for the whole day, but sometimes (especially in the morning on a lazy day) when I just reach out for the book, while still in bed, I forget about the music or anything at all. I’m so into reading the book that probably there would have to be a fire to make me notice the world around. Or something like that.

On the other hand, when I learn (and it’s often related to rewriting my quickly written notes to a new notebook) I need to have some noise in the background like music (usually in the language I’m learning) or TV.

Do you read without distractions? Or do you need a music or TV in the background while reading a book? How do you read?Do you agree with hawkwoman? Is it impossible to read without distractions nowadays?

Share with me and other readers your thoughts on that. Just write it down in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Reading without distraction – is it your thing?”

  1. I can ONLY read without distractions! (Okay, that’s not entirely true, but I find it very hard to read if there’s anything else going on.) My favorite way to read is when I’m the only one home, but failing that I’ll shut myself in a room if need be. The quieter, the better!

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