I wonder if a lot of people feel this way. Are we–the readers, the lovers of the written word, the library-goers, the bookstore-haunters–are we the weird ones? Or is it weirder to look at a book and think, “Ew, who would want to read that?” and go off and surf the internet mindlessly for hours?

Not that I don’t spend enough of my time mindlessly surfing the internet. I do write a blog, after all. I’m sure some of you readers have come across it because of mindless internet surfing. And I won’t deny that sometimes my attention span is more suited to clicking “Stumble” over and over again rather than putting effort into reading a book. But…to never read? Or to think that liking to read books is weird? How?

I was talking with Andrew the other day about how I don’t usually have much interest in movies and even less in plays. Even when I like, or even love the movie (or play, or musical, as it were), by the time I’m five minutes in I’m checking my watch and wondering how much time there is left. For whatever reason, I just don’t have the attention span to sit through a movie longer than 90 minutes or so. But I can sit and read a book for hours. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe because I know I could stop and put it down if I wanted to, whereas with a movie or a play especially it’s harder (or impossible) to hit pause and then come back to it? The funny thing is that I almost never regret going to see a movie or a play; once I resign myself to seeing it, I let myself get involved in it and I enjoy it. So I don’t really know where that initial resistance comes from. Nevertheless, it’s there.

Does this ever happen to you? What do you generally have a better attention span for, books or movies?

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3 thoughts on “Weird

  1. You put forward some great questions here that really made me think. Interesting point about you checking your watch when you’re watching movies – I’m a movie enthusiast but I often find myself checking my watch as well. Unless the movies are really trashy, suspenseful and/or hilarious (which doesn’t make a lot of sense: shouldn’t I be more interested in intellectual/artful house movies?)

    When I was reading A Game of Thrones (most recent example I can think of) I couldn’t put it down, but there’s quite some books that I find it hard to get through. Actually that’s what I love about movies – it’s like someone inserts a needle into your arm and injects an entire story into your bloodstream. Takes a few hours to settle in, but nowhere near as long as books do.
    I’m a fervent book lover, but I guess these days I have so little time that I am better off preferring movies to books. They’re more instantaneous, so to say. But sometimes the longer-lasting thrill of a novel is much more satisfying.

    Sorry if this is a bit of a mess of a comment – bottom line is, I think this is a lovely post and you really made me think here.

    • Thank you! 🙂 Your comment isn’t a mess at all, I completely understand where you’re coming from. But for me, it always seems that a movie or a play is much MORE of an investment time-wise–you HAVE to spend x hours/minutes/etc. watching it, or else the experience isn’t what it’s supposed to be (since you didn’t watch it all at once). But with a book, it’s less of a time investment and more of an emotional investment. Since you generally spend more time with a single book than only an hour or two, as you would with a movie, you have to break it up over a series of “exposures,” if you will–a chapter before bed, a chapter while you’re eating lunch, a whole mess of chapters on a rainy Sunday. And in that time, if the book is written well, you come to really know the characters and they come to be a part of you. I can’t think of a single time that has ever happened to me with a movie, but I can think of plenty of books that have made me feel that way. That’s not to say I don’t like movies or don’t have some favorites that I could watch over and over again, because I do (Ten Things I Hate About You and The Emperor’s New Groove come to mind), but nine out of ten times, when given the choice between a book and a movie, I’ll take the book.

      Also, in regards to your comment about really trashy/suspenseful movies being able to keep your attention better than intellectual movies: duh! I always feel so “uncultured” because I can’t STAND artsy, “intellectual” movies. Give me The Emperor’s New Groove any day. It’s for the same reason that it’s easier and probably more fun to read trashy romance or horror novels than it is to read, say, The Brothers Karamazov. Fancy schmancy, “intellectual,” “cultured” literature and movies require more of an effort, which is why they’re often considered “better.” But just because they use big words and long sentences doesn’t make them better. It all depends on personal taste, and I happen to quite like both “trashy” fiction and more “literary” fiction. It all depends on the mood I’m in 🙂 My general distaste for artsy, “intellectual” film, on the other hand, comes from the fact that they all seem much too self-consciously intellectual. (There are books like that too–anything by Jonathan Safron Foer comes to mind–and I don’t like those either.)

      Anyway…I feel like at this point I should have perhaps just written a separate post answering some of the things you’ve brought up, and maybe I’ll expand on this one day, but for now I think I’m done. Thanks for bringing up such great points–you really made ME think!! 🙂

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