The Gift of Reading Time
When I flew across country last week, I joined the others on the plane and strapped into my seat, settling back for a long flight. It’s always interesting to see how other people spend those five hours. Cut off from email and the Internet or their telephone, the time to travel amounts to the same gift of time. Some people sleep while others strike up a conversation with someone nearby. Others pull out a laptop and work on some project while others use their laptop to play a game or watch a DVD. Another group of people purchase earphones and catch the airline film. There are a variety of choices how to spend the time.
Some of the people on the plane take out a book and read a few pages, then stop. Usually I begin reading a book before I take the trip. From my years in publishing, I understand that all books are not equal. I want to make sure I’ve got a page-turner when I’ve got an extended period for reading.
Within a few pages, I was lost in the story and characters of my book. It’s an almost magical experience for me to have a lengthy time for reading. I quickly turned the pages and the hours of travel seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. There is a lot of things which demand our attention and a recent report shows with the increased use of the Internet, people are spending less time reading magazines, newspapers and listening to the radio. As the article, Time-wise, Internet is now TV’s Equal by Heidi Dawley, says, “Researchers also asked those surveyed which media they were using less as a result of the increased time on the interned. Books were the big loser, with some 37 percent saying that they spend less time reading books.”
What does such a survey mean for those who love books, dream of writing books and continue to work in book publishing? It means books have to continue to be better in quality. The reader is less patient with the opening of a novel or the beginning of a nonfiction book. As the editor watches out for the reader, it means your query has to instantly draw my attention. The drawing sentence can’t be the third one or in the second paragraph. Your book proposal has to instantly capture my attention and move my interest. As writers, we need to continue to grow in our ability to write excellent prose.
And when you find that gift of extended reading time? I’d encourage you to curl up with a book and plunge into the pages.