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Mr_M's avatar

I can't stand to read books?

Asked by Mr_M (7596points) September 10th, 2008

or watch long movies (I have to know what time it will end before I even sit down to watch). I’ll read newspaper articles, and magazine articles but to sit down and read something cover to cover, NEVER happens. My family knows better than to EVER buy me a book as a gift. I’ve always been this way. In school, I rarely did the reading assignments. Anyone else have this problem?

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35 Answers

Harp's avatar

Is that you, Mr. President?!

EmpressPixie's avatar

I can’t watch long movies. No matter how engrossing, I just can’t do it. Lord of the Rings killed me. I kept checking my watch and finally had to leave the theater to take a break. I just can’t spend that amount of time inactive watching a screen.

Having said that, I can remain perfectly immobile for hours upon hours reading a good book. But a long movie? No thanks.

BarbieM's avatar

I can’t help you here. I read all the time, books, magazines, newspapers. I have a book in my purse all the time just in case I get stuck waiting somewhere.

lapilofu's avatar

Do you have ADD, perhaps?

@EmpressPixie: Why do you describe time spent watching a movie as “time inactive watching a screen” when the time spent reading a book could be described almost exactly the same way? Why is that any worse than hours spent “inactive staring at words?”

marinelife's avatar

I have never had this problem. On the other hand, most people do not read books cover to cover, because their schedules don’t allow it. I have stayed up all night reading a really engrossing book (and usually regretted it the next day).

You are losing a lot of value in your life by not reading books. Since you say you can read a magazine article, why not think of a book’s chapters as a series of articles and commit to only reading one chapter at a time.

An inability to focus for even an hour or two (the length of a movie) seems like it would have other negative impacts in your life (work, for example). Have you considered talking to a doctor about this issue?

Larssenabdo's avatar

In Buddhism, we sometimes call this phenom “Monkey mind.”

EmpressPixie's avatar

@lapilofu: I think the bigger question is how I can spend all day on the computer (which is basically the same thing in many ways) without complaint. The answer is: I don’t know. I have no idea why my attention span perceives them so differently. I just know that I get absorbed into books in a way that movies can’t quite get me. I don’t notice the passage of time.

PupnTaco's avatar

Reading books would help you recognize between a statement and a question.

I kid.

I think it’s a shame; as a nation we’re losing interest in reading when we can least afford to lose those things that set us apart and above.

qualitycontrol's avatar

I can’t stand to read books either, I usually have to sit down or lay in my bed or couch because books are generally long.

Mr_M's avatar

@marina, no I CAN focus on things for hours on end, intensely. I’m successful for the most part. But it’s reading a book. I sometimes wonder if Catholic High School ruined it for me. I remember the detailed questions they’d test us on.

I can also be on the net for hours on end.

Harp's avatar

I think there’s an element of surrender in committing oneself to a book (or long movie) that some people have trouble with. Essentially, you’re letting your mind be taken on a journey over which you have little control.

To really be absorbed in a lengthy narrative in which one isn’t an active participant requires a temporary abandonment of self. You have to give the reins of your perception over to the author or director and allow them, to a degree, to manipulate that perspective. If you’re unwilling to yield that kind of control, reading and movies lose much of their power, and can even represent a threat on a subliminal level.

Browsing magazines, using the internet, watching TV, etc. preserve a measure of controlover the process. One can navigate these media in a participatory way that’s impossible with books and movies.

Mr_M's avatar

Interesting idea. As it happens, I have a phobia for general anesthesia – a “loss of control” issue. You might be on to something. I have to think about it.

What’s also interesting is I’m not hearing a lot of people saying THEY have the same problem.

Mr_M's avatar

@Marina, trying to think of a book’s chapters as articles is what I do, but once I put it down, I don’t have the interest to go back to it.

I find plays easier to read than novels (and I’m not talking Shakespeare here).

And remember, I have a Master’s Degree so I’ve been able to get around the problem.

cyndyh's avatar

@EP: A book is far more interactive than a movie. There’s a lot of filling in of the details that a reader has to do that a viewer doesn’t have to do. And “sitting at a computer” is far more interactive than that if you’re talking about the participation I think you mean when you say that.

Knotmyday's avatar

I find that ultimately, people who don’t read are uninteresting. Maybe it’s the lack of a common frame of reference, but I have found that they communicate ineffectively.

fuzzyjay's avatar

Maybe it’s not books that are the problem, but the types of books. I fell off of reading for awhile, and it took me finding the right book to get me back into reading.

Mr_M's avatar

@knotmyday, maybe. For what it’s worth though, I’ve had articles published and co-authored a book.

syz's avatar

That is so alien to me….I can’t even fathom how someone could live without books. That said, my partner is not a big reader. I’ve threatened to get us matching t-shirts. Mine would say “Don’t judge a book by it’s movie” and hers would say “I’ll wait for the movie”.

Knotmyday's avatar

Wait a minute- “I can’t stand to read books” vs. “I’ve co-authored a book”??? Isn’t that like saying “I hate water, but I’ve won several awards for swimming”????

What an unbelievable dichotomy.

Mr_M's avatar

Nope. Not in the least.

Mr_M's avatar

@knot, couldn’t you WRITE the story of YOUR life easily? I could. Yet there would be NO WAY I’d want to READ someone else’s. See?

Larssenabdo's avatar

@knot, it’s the diff between being wanting to talk and wanting to listen. I think M find himself interesting; others maybe not so much? I love to read biographies, myself.

Mr_M's avatar

@Lars, a perfect explanation.

galileogirl's avatar

There is so much “down” time in life. Time when you are waiting to be somewhere, waiting to meet someone, waiting for your next activity to happen. Reading is the most portable form of engaging your mind.

Mr_M's avatar

Don’t get me wrong. I read in all of those situations, only I’d read a magazine or a newspaper. Never a novel.

Mitsu_Neko's avatar

my boyfrien won’t read books either…...Says it just doesn’t draw him in like it does me. And that he prefers articles because they are more to the point

His grandfather hasd run several successful busineses and can’t read above a second grade level

Mitsu_Neko's avatar

LOL the d from boyfriend wandered to has

hard to type without my right thumb

sands's avatar

Actually no. I’m the exact opposite to you. I love reading books and I will watch a long movie if I think it is good. The Titanic felt more like an hour instead of three and I’d watch it again in a minute if I got the chance. I’ve never seen such superb acting or a more compelling storyline in my life. I do know many people like you though and they all tell me that they hate to read and they consider it to be a waste of time. To each his own is what I say.

Mr_M's avatar

Only I don’t feel it’s a waste of time. I envy those who do. If I MUST read a novel, it takes me forever. And if it’s a book that I can relate my real life scenarios to, forget about it – the mind wanders.

marinelife's avatar

Wow, Mr_M, I am at a loss for words (many people here would be able to tell you how unusual that is). I don’t see how to convey the wonder and mystery of books. Books are the ultimate interactive encounter. They are so much more vivid than any computer site, because it is your brain that engages and supplies the world. It is that joy of stepping away from my world and into another world for some time that I find so compelling.

You sound like an accomplished person. I guess books are just not your thing. I feel so sorry for you in terms of what you are missing. I literally cannot imagine a life without books. (I can easily imagine a life without a computer or even a TV).

Mr_M's avatar

Apparently it MUST be unusual. I am NOT hearing from many other people with the same issue who HAVE made it through school and work successfully.

Kar's avatar

Hi Mr. M.Well,I know someone just like you – my husband. We’ve been married 33 years, and in all that time he has never finished ONE book. He has all kinds of magazine subscriptions for woodworking, and gardening, but I think the last novel he read was in High School.
He also can’t sit through movies, unless they’re James Bond – the old ones with Sean Connery or the other one after him.
He is the type of person who is always doing something physical, and the only time he reads is when the day is done and he’s ready to drop.

Mr_M's avatar

You know, as a kid, I used to read a dictionary in bed, before I fell asleep.

GREEN40's avatar


cyndyh's avatar

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

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