While reading in the summer months appears to be a pastime popular enough to warrant the term “summer reading”, I’ve always found myself so distracted by my preferred vacation activities — perhaps with the exception of occasional bus rides through very familiar landscapes — that my annual reading calendar tends to slump heavily towards the remaining three seasons. This presents a certain dilemma to those who, like me, spend a significant portion of their working year chained to their keyboards.
With a never-ending “to do” list encroaching upon my precious reading time, I’ve found myself resorting to ever-shorter written forms, often enjoying them hastily while eating at my desk or sitting in public transportation. But I admit the mounting stacks of books and lengthy, unread pieces from the New York Times Sunday Magazine still evoke a feeling of guilt.
Biweekly #31 cover by Malwina Konopacka Whenever I share this observation with fellow readers, I invariably hear that the mythical “shortened attention span” is to blame. Instinctively sensing that there might be more to it than that — and secretly hoping that modern technology has not doomed us to such a terrible fate — I’ve refused to accept this explanation. Perhaps it’s just a mismatch between two unavoidable situations: finding something interesting to read but not having the time to sit down and finish it, and unexpectedly finding time to read while away from one’s bookcase and computer (or not having quite enough time to dive into a new book). While I was initially sceptical of e-book readers and sites such as Instapaper, I’ve found that technological conveniences can, in fact, bridge the gap between these two moments. Long reads that would once go unread indefinitely now get stored away during busy work hours, to be accessed from a phone or reader whenever I can carve out a moment of time. I’ve found myself drifting back to those satisfying long forms that I enjoyed back before curling up with a book for six hours at a time ceased to be an option.
This week we have several lengthy pieces, including a talk with the creators of a new opera about Marie Curie, an interview with CSW Zamek director Fabio Cavallucci, and a few words from American jazz pianist Craig Taborn about his new album Avenging Angel. You might want to start with the shorter articles: Mirek Filiciak and Alek Tarkowski wrap up their series on the intersection between culture and technology with the letters Y and Z, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir tells us what she writes about when she’s not writing about the events of 11/11, and Irena Grudzińska-Gross drops in on Zucotti Park on Thanksgiving.
There’s no rush. Biweekly #31 will be up for a full two weeks, as usual. And for those of you who carry their e-book readers on the metro, we have the whole issue in epub format.
Biweekly#31. Editor: Arthur Barys. Cover by Malwina Konopacka. Published 28 November, 2011 at 20:30.