52 Comments
May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

I thought at first you were going to reflect on how that list represents a change in your interests, then I realized your very valid point that it represents a lack of reading time. Life is harder today, it takes up more time, people work longer hours, or commute further, there is more traffic, everything takes longer. The efficiencies of a homemaker in most homes made a lot of creative space, reflected in the often meticulous hobbies of both men and women of the past, or the many social activities of clubs, bowling, etc. everyone’s life these days seems impoverished with regard to time despite the shiny technological improvements. Better planning will certainly help with the use of time, but might not create more of it.

I was looking over my books on kindle to create a collection for my 12 year old grandson with two broken arms. We have thousands of real books but they are hard for him to hold right now and he is a voracious reader, having lots of that time which is so elusive for adults. I realize how my kindle books represent the obsessions of the moment, though most are cheap out of copyright classics. There are the books dealing with disease and disability when I was first diagnosed 14 years ago with a hereditary, deteriorating, condition. Then the dog books when we got our German Shepherd puppy, now aging toward the end which always comes too soon. It’s is a little like a diary, this collection of kindle books.

Thought provoking essay, thank you!

Expand full comment
author

If we had a kind of visual bookmarking thing for it all it would certainly make for interesting reading later.

As for time I do feel we are time poor. But I suspect we are mostly time sloppy. Our glowing rectangles are always ready to entertain us. In previous eras we had to plan the entertainment as you note. Perhaps that is the better model.

Expand full comment
May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

I used to read at least a dozen books a year for several decades until 2013 when the "Smart Phone” became a constant in my life. then I stopped reading for almost a decade. this was disappointing at first but it gradually became a deep source of shame. occasionally I would do as you and browse book lists and dreamily pick out ones that caught my interest. I even bought a few. but I never read a page. then, two years ago, I got rid of all SM and my “Smart Phone” and made myself read. without the constant noise and distraction, I fell back into it with ease. like riding a bike. regardless, I still have to discipline myself to make time for reading in a way I didn’t in the pre digital times. the machine God is a powerful one, and he never sleeps.

sometimes I feel that our salvation lies not in how to create a better world, but in remembering what we’ve lost…and recovering it.

Expand full comment
author

That is good to read. Glad you rediscovered your mojo.

And I agree. I think we do need a kind of rollback. I suspect more and more might retreat from the digital world.

Expand full comment

I agree. More and more when I'm reading an essay or article casual, or sometimes relevant to the topic, mention is made that the writer hasn't watched television in years, or even owns one. I'm also in that category - no television in the house since 2013, and probably going back ten years earlier than that I probably didn't watch but a few hours per week. I haven't watched MSM in over 20 years.

In another decade or maybe less, I think we will be seeing or saying that about our "devices" as well.

Expand full comment
author

I'm the same. No TV for years. I hope to get to a zero digital devices status at some point too.

I am horrified when I see how hooked people are to their little toys.

Expand full comment

Same here. I'm not truly a misanthrope, but neither do I mind sparing only a little of my time to actual, in-person communication. I'll admit to begrudging even 15 or 20 minutes in casual interaction. A real discussion on topics that interest me, now that's another story. The despicable and tyrannical covid lockdowns weren't much bother to me. I pretty much live like that by choice, anyway. Most people aren't like me, though, and to see them fixated on their screens, shoulders humped, oblivious to those around them, is disheartening.

Expand full comment
author

The smartphone really has captured the world I think. I suspect a schism will develop soon. Those who can live without one, even if just for specific periods of the day, and everyone else. I honestly see widespread addiction to these devices.

Expand full comment

I agree. They are addictive, and a good number of those addicted will have a very hard time if they ever have to do without them.

Expand full comment

Norns

~~~

A deep sadness washes over me

as I look at the time of day.

There is never enough time

too many threads spun by fate.

I call out to the Norns

to keep watch on the heights.

Within my soul I cry

too many sleepless nights.

The threads one can follow

to madness if they desire.

Or maybe inspiration

that fleeting feeling.

A deep sadness washes over me

as I watch the wheel turn.

There is never enough time

too many threads spun by fate.

Expand full comment
author

Lovely.

Expand full comment

I wrote that a while back and while reading your article it just came to my mind again. Figured you might appreciate the sentiment.

Expand full comment

I really like that. 😊

Expand full comment

Appreciated! I love writing poetry. It's a unique medium of expression.

Expand full comment

You definitely have a the ability to make a person feel your words. Would you mind if I took a screenshot of it. Adding your name of course so if I show it to someone else they can see who it's by?

Expand full comment

Certainly!

Expand full comment

Thank you.

Expand full comment
May 5·edited May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

Another way of looking at an Amazon book Wish List is to compare it to wandering through your favorite book store. Except that.... if you go to a book store you see everything that is trending among Gen X, Gen Z and Gen A.2 and all those romance novels, trans-sexual propaganda, and, admittedly, some biographies that are eye-catching. But on Amazon, we are treated to the best that Artificial Intelligence can provide for us.

Every time we search for an author, a subject, or a title of a book, we are reminded of dozens that are just as interesting and that fit into the same subset of writing that we are searching for. It's fun, at least for me, to scroll down my list of daydream-reading to see what caught my eye in the past. Every year I delete a few and if I haven't purchased a book I was interested in two years ago, I'm just liable to delete it from my "Books" list. Imagine the feeling of power this gives me! I feel like Daniel Boone swimming the Mississippi.

Expand full comment
author

Like a literary god, you just obliterate all that doesn't make the grade. I like it.

Expand full comment

DRACULA NEVER DIES: the Revenge of Bela Vorlock has just been deleted.

Boohoo wah ha ha.

I am the destroyer of worlds.

Expand full comment
May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

We are going on a trip next week to Hawaii and I’m looking for a good read or two for the plane and for lounging on the beach. Can’t read well on a Kindle in sunshine, so I need a physical book for that. My Kindle library is much like your Amazon list. Full of free samples I’ve downloaded, Amazon “First Reads” (a free kindle book for Prime Members) and bargains I’ve picked up from BookBub, a service that will alert you to sales on your favorite authors or genres of ebooks, occasionally even free ones. Still it seems harder to find a good satisfying read in newer books, because much like TV and movies, I will inevitably run across some irritating LGBTQ or progressive politics BS inserted that adds nothing to the story and just turns me off. Last night I started reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, an illustrated version on Kindle, that is simply lovely. But it is hard to carve out the time because I admit to *always* being on my phone and I hate it.

Expand full comment
author

These days we do need to discipline ourselves as our phones are all too convenient. You are not alone. And I think a real physical book is a great alternative.

Expand full comment

I like the idea of the mind recharging by being active. I often wonder what people like Julius Caesar did to relax. Music? Poetry? Dancing? Whatever it was, it wasn't passive.

Expand full comment
author

You are right. We must conquer Gaul!

Expand full comment
May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

An interesting question. I make time to read every single night, I try to turn off the outside world by 9pm but occasionally run over but the question of time is something I do think about.

Years ago I worked a full day, occassionally overtime yet still made time for others every evening and did a myriad of things I had to do. Yet there is no way I could fit that amount of things into my day now.

I don't have television, I have never done social media so its not that where my time is going. So maybe somehow it's true that time is speeding up somehow? At rare moments I hit a morning where I can literally feel as if time has really slowed down and I can physically fit in so many things that I normally cant these days. I guess I'm wondering if anyone else has those rare times where time virtually goes into slow motion allowing me to achieve a lot?

Expand full comment
author

I am not sure myself. I am aware of the expression, if you want something done give it to a busy person. So being organized is a factor.

For me I think too much of my time is online. I need to timebox it better.

Expand full comment

If being organised means following routine, that's definitely not me, the slowing down of time is a weird phenomenon. It's like something that took an hour to do several years ago, a few years ago, yesterday, you do and the clock has only advanced fifteen minutes. Rarely lasts more than a morning though and then slowly goes back to normal, or what we're thinking of as normal.

At least you are aware of what is taking up your time so that really just means you're making a choice of how to use it.

Expand full comment
author

That is only some of it. I am actually not bad. I don't watch TV or use social media, so I think they are a massive time sink for many.

I know what you mean about time sometimes slowing. For me it seems to be a kind of alertness so I get more done in a fairly regimented fashion. Doesn't happen often though.

Expand full comment
May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

Agreed re television and social media plus a great way to control the people, bread and circuses of a different nature.

If you're happy with your life and it's not hurting anyone then that's all that matters.

Me? I couldn't feel right without reading I admit that. I just change my type of reading material so I don't stagnate.

Expand full comment
May 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff

'why does this happen? Why do I have a big list of unread books?'

In my case the list of unread books is in addition to the To Read pile of real physical books, which only seems to grow as time goes by.

Expand full comment

That's a shame, I think when it gets to that point of unread physical books it's maybe a case of forcing yourself to pick out one of the unread ones and rediscover the joy of reading, a few pages should do it.

If it's because of digital technology then sorry but you're just going to have to turn it off at a certain time so you don't get the urge to keep checking on things. It'll still be waiting tomorrow. 😊

Expand full comment

It's for an unrelated reason, thanks for the advice anyway.

Expand full comment

Then you have my sympathy, I could not bear the thought of not being able to read my books.

Expand full comment
May 7Liked by Spaceman Spiff

I've learned to appreciate audiobooks :)

Expand full comment
May 9Liked by Spaceman Spiff

Spending time, paying attention. As you point out, those phrases are very telling. It makes one think that when they were coined, people had a much keener sense of the value of learning and the cost of ignorance. Excellent piece again. Thank you.

Expand full comment
author
May 9·edited May 9Author

I think it is a kind of subconscious awareness the activities we choose cost us something. So the economic terminology fits.

One of the greatest fears people have is they wasted their lives. So it is definitely in there for most people.

Expand full comment

Indeed. One only needs to list the amount of popular music songs on that very subject. Lifespan and all that entails as a sort of human currency (at the risk of sounding a bit high falutin). Joni said it perfectly:

" ..something's lost and something's gained, in living every day."

I always loved that line.

Expand full comment

After reading your ponderings on time and the wasting thereof, I had to check my Amazon Wish List to see how many books I've parked there. Yeah. 86 since 2015. I'd still like to read most of them. However, reading for me has become secondary to listening to books. I've been an avid reader since childhood, typically reading as an adult on average 40 books a year. Over the last 5 or so years my reading consumption has slowed down quite a bit, mostly age-related reasons like lessening visual acuity and not being able to stay awake to pull all-nighters like I once did. I typically read at bedtime. That is, an hour or 3 of reading in bed before turning out the light. Unfortunately, I can't keep my eyes open that long anymore. Lucky to get in 20 minutes before my book or iPad tumbles from my hands, and my eyelids have fallen shut.

Because I loved to read as a child, I developed a mindset that reading was a treat, and before getting a treat I had to eat my vegetables, i.e., do my homework and chores before sitting down with the book I wanted to devour. That stayed with me all my life, though I did give myself some leeway on the weekends and holidays, when I could read anytime, day or night.

With the advent of Substack and before that the internet in general, much of my reading time is spent on-line. I think I'm in front of a screen at a minimum 6 to 7 hours per day reading Substack and blogs, and listening to podcasts, which then send me off on rabbit trails to who knows where I might end up on the web. I can even read my Kindle books on-line. All that screen time really adds up. I don't partake of social media, or television, and though I subscribe to 2 streaming services, I only watch maybe 2 movies a month. YouTube also grabs a lot of my time.

Hardly a week goes by that I don't lament to myself "so much to read, listen or watch, but so little time." I allow myself this time-sucking indulgence because very little of the time I'm devoting to these pursuits do I consider wasted. Well, with the exception of the occasional horror of YouTube Shorts, which have the ability to suck me in far longer than I intend. Aside from that most of my screen time is an exercise in heavy lifting. Cat videos are fun, and I allow a little respite from the knowledge immersion to rest my mind with a few of them, but not for too long.

With some trepidation, I retired at the age of 75 last year. I was so concerned that I wouldn't know what to do with all my spare time. Ha! There aren't enough hours in the day I've discovered, and each day seems to pass more quickly than the day before. When I turned 76 in March, I couldn't quite wrap my mind around how fast the 8 months since my retirement has flown by. Sadly, those 86 titles on my wish list, if it hasn't grown even more, may outlast me.

Expand full comment
author

You pack a lot in. What an inspiration. I am not sure the medium matters so much as the intent. I think too many people indulge in passive consumption. Mainly television. I think reading a Kindle or Substack is fine. It is active reading.

Sounds like you will be fine and I am sure you will get through the books eventually.

Expand full comment

Did I mention that my middle name is "Conscientious". LOL I regard passive, mindless entertainment the same way I do idle chit chat. No can do, and a little goes a long way. The internet, for all its flaws, has opened up an expansive vista of useful, intriguing, interesting and provocative ways to use one's time. Maybe I have a couple of decades left, and boy, do I have a LOT of ground to cover.

Expand full comment

A poster in a high school band classroom:

You don’t “find” the time to practice.

You TAKE the time and you MAKE the time.

Expand full comment

I’ve dealt with a similar issue. Compiling reading lists with interesting books that I never actually get around to reading. There is no real answer other than the one you already arrived at, which is to Make time for it. Often easier said than done, but definitely possible and worth the time.

Expand full comment
author

And to accept you have limited time. You can't read them all.

Expand full comment
deletedMay 5Liked by Spaceman Spiff
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

You're a hardier person than me to go through woke pandering nonsense, I'd have given up the moment I started. 😂

Nice to hear about stack of books, a lot like myself though mine extend into diverse places of stacks. Bookcases full, boxes under bed full. They will find me buried beneath a pile of books one day. 📚

Expand full comment
deletedMay 5·edited May 5
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

I would make an awful friend then, I..just.. couldn't..do..it. I would take the easy route watch 2 mins here and there, enough to make friend feel I'd watched and retire to read my book.

Either a sick old pervert or like some writers discovered in the 1800's, porn sells especially sadistic porn, I don't see the attraction myself but some must.

Most especially under that bookalanche if there's one I hadn't finished reading. 😉

Expand full comment
deletedMay 5
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Sadly I think a lot of this is being pushed because it's part of the plan. It's what "they" want. Push it enough and people start to put it into practice, it's how we got into this mess so far.

So I take it like myself you both didn't rush out to buy 'fifty shades of grey ".

Sadly I wonder how many people out there watch and read what you've described just to keep up with their friends and gradually become addicted?

Keep writing the good stuff or this world hasn't a hope in hell.

Expand full comment
deletedMay 5·edited May 5
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Returned to let you know as promised what Chrissy thinks to your book. It was her birthday yesterday so she started reading last night. How's a note through my door this morning before school with a flower and heart and I love it, love it, love it, suit you.

Thank you for making a young girl feel that happy. 💖

Expand full comment
deletedMay 20·edited May 20Liked by Spaceman Spiff
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

I will take note and let you know, she is someone who talks about things like that naturally, which I love.

Expand full comment