I have noticed an interesting trend: Knowing I am an author, people have divulged their own reading habits and a surprising number have confessed they prefer very short reads. “Not enough time to read” is the most common reason; in fact, that is why I generally keep my blogs short. “I have to start over because I don’t remember what happened before [in the tale]” is one I hear more and more often. And some have said, “I look at one of these really big books, and I know I’ll never get through it.”
And I’m not the only one to notice the change in readers. Many authors and editors now admonish new writers to dispense with description and keep books “tight.”
Granted, there are still people who prefer to have the details of a scene portrayed so that they can truly immerse themselves in the tale. And publishers still demand tomes for some genres. But the overall direction of the industry appears to be toward shorter books and leaner stories.
What is happening? Is all this instant-gratification of skimming through online blurbs and brief articles cutting our attention span? Have people become too lazy to read anything bigger than a meme? Have our lives become so frenzied that we can’t spare even a half-hour or an hour every day or two to feed our imaginations with something outside our own little boxes and our mundane concerns? Is something in our air or food or water affecting our ability to assimilate and follow a storyline?
I’ll admit, at this point, that I sometimes choose a quick read over a nine-hundred-pager when I’ve been steeped in heavy scenes within my current work-in-progress. But I am an eclectic reader in that I jump from short to long and from genre to genre.
Do you always pick short stories and small books? If so, why?
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