Going Paperless 3 – Do I Have A Word Addiction?

I’m learning a lot about myself through this simple experiment of trying to go paperless.  I buy probably 100 times as many words as I actually read – and that guess might even need to go as high as a 1,000 times.  After buying my Kindle I decided to only purchase Kindle reading in a just-in-time-to-read fashion – no stocking up.  I’ve known for years my eyes are bigger than my reading habit stomach when it comes to buying books and magazines. 

I could have immediately filled up my Kindle with hundreds of free classic books by going to the elegant web site Feedbooks.  I could have jammed it with blogs, magazines and newspaper subscriptions.  Instead I bought two books, subscribed to Time Magazine, bought a few issues of my favorite SF&F magazines, and download a couple dozen sample chapters of books I was considering buying.

It quickly became apparent that even this light load was too much.  I read one of the books, started the second, read some of stories in the magazines, and a couple sample chapters.  I’m struggling to keep up with the magazine reading because I’ve already gotten six issues of Time. [By the way, for some reason I’m getting way more out of Time by reading on the Kindle than I ever did out of the paper copy.  I think photos and ads must be distracting.]  Because I have such a backlog of paper books and magazines on my bookshelves to read, I don’t read on my Kindle full time yet.  I wished all my reading material was on my Kindle because it’s easier to read E-ink over most of the paper formatted pages I have stacking my shelves.  Also, I could monitor my reading flow better.

People compare finding data on the Internet to drinking from a fire hose.  I think that metaphor is outdated.  I think it’s like lighting a cigarette from the exhaust of the Saturn V booster.  Trying to keep up my daily data input is like being the little robot, Number 5 from the movie Short Circuit.  I keep telling myself, “More data, more data,” but I can’t handle it.  I’m addicted to words and I need to get control.

So weeks ago I decided to go paperless as a start.  I’m tossing all my magazine renewals as I get them.  I’m cleaning out the stacks of back issues.  And I’ve begun to study the online editions of my favorite magazines to see how much I can practically read online.  (See my new Magazines section.) 

I’ve quickly learned that I actually don’t read as much as I want to, or think I do.  I’m like a squirrel that hides a thousand nuts for each one I eat.  I could save myself a lot of time and energy by breaking this compulsive habit.  This experiment to get rid of paper magazines and newspapers is teaching me I need to change my personality.  Reading is good, but wanting to read everything is bad.  Being God and knowing about every sparrow must be an awful stressful profession.

I need to find my reading Walden and channel Henry David Thoreau for awhile.  I have no intention of giving up on words altogether, but I need to go on a diet.  My first impulse is try to read only one short story or essay a day.  The idea was to daily meditate on one inspiring work.  Even this might be too much, because I’d like to read a really good story and then contemplate it by writing a blog post.  That would take several hours of work, and I don’t have that much time every day to spare.

If I can ever get down to such a contemplative reading habit I might find I can only handle one good work every three or four days.  Is it better to nibble on a lot of reading potato chips or to just have one good cerebral meal?

I actually get 40-50 books read each year by listening to audio books while doing other things, so I’m not worried about full length books and novels.  See “How Audible.com Changed My Life.”  I’m concerned with magazines, newspapers, blogs, RSS feeds, web sites, emails, and all the other sources of short lengths of words I gorged myself on daily while storing up even more thinking tomorrow I’ll be reading even faster than I do today. 

It’s like I’ve got my own rat race of digital consumption going.  Since pledging to go paperless I’ve been cleaning out my email inbox and unsubscribing to lots of newsletters, lists, announcements and web sites.  I started visiting LifeHacker but not subscribing.

Reading was much easier when I was a poor kid and I got all my books from the library.  I didn’t own books then, just had a stack of four or five sitting on my bedside table.  Then I grew up and got a job that financed buying all the books I wanted.  After that came the Internet with googles of free words, and I’ve reached a stage in my life where I’m drowning in reading.  Damn, I’ve got to find a way to manage that Saturn V exhaust of data addiction.

Going Paperless 4






8 thoughts on “Going Paperless 3 – Do I Have A Word Addiction?”

  1. Jim: That was a great post. The overload is something we all need to contend with. It is not going to get easier. My hope is that in the near future a functional digital personal concierge will appear to help guide us through the morass. A word diet is one thing, but missing important data (information) in an era of total connectivity is another. The balance in that equation is using the technology that put us into this overload to get us out of the jam. With a personalized digital filtration system less just might be more.

  2. Bo, that’s a good idea. The social bookmarking sites are a good idea, but I don’t think they work either. I need an AI that can work with me. I’m doing a lot of reading in cosmology right now, but everything is rather general. What I would need is an AI that knew what I read and kept an eye out for more specific articles that filled in on what I already knew.

    Do you know about any existing digital filtration systems?


  3. “I’ve known for years my eyes are bigger than my reading habit stomach when it comes to buying books and magazines.” The first step is admitting you have a problem…ha! 🙂 Welcome to the club, you are not alone.

    I certainly have attempted in 2008 to reduce my book buying despite the fact that books are my favorite things to collect. The biggest help for me personally has been my own self-challenge to read at least one book a month that I check out from the library rather than purchase. So far I am a bit ahead of my one per month goal and have thus saved some coin. I have also set a goal to read what I buy within the first month of purchasing it. I have actually been more successful than I had thought I would be but still have work to do in this area. I love book cover illustration and those books are just so dang tempting!!!

    By the way, and a bit off topic, I love the new header for your blog. I have been needing to change mine for some time and I have been thinking about doorways as well. Very cool!

  4. The photo is from my artist friend, Angela Christopher. She has done a whole series of collages that I would like to use. I mangled this one to make it fit in the space requirements. The large original is very impressive.

    I wished WordPress had a rotating header photo feature. It would be great to have my blog be a gallery for art and photos too.

    I tried disciplining myself two years ago to only buy a book when I was going to read it next. It didn’t work. I have a real book buying addiction.

  5. I have that same addiction James. I guess I really don’t feel all that bad about it either.

    Her work is impressive, does she have a website? I really love collage work and need to actually do more of it myself. At least try it. It is probably the medium of art that fascinates me the most as I truly believe it is something I would enjoy doing and whenever I come across a talented collage artist it excites me in a way that is hard to describe.

  6. When I got my first reader I thought just like you… But people start recommending new titles that you simply MUST read, and things start spinning out of control. Plus, there´s some books you want to read again simply because you loved them or you don´t remember… Soon, you end up with 700 titles actually in my Sony reader, of which i´ve read about 35%. Back in the old paper days I had a library in each room of the house plus books everywhere, even towering to form a sweet coffee table 😉 Going digital is the best thing that happened since the internet started… And I´m more “data data data” than ever!

  7. AND! the worst thing is that those 700 books occupy just 500 megs of the 1.5 GB… So you say “I got space, what´s gonna hurt downloading one more book? It´s not like paper” 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Engaging With Aging

As long as we're green, we're growing

A Deep Look by Dave Hook

Thoughts, ramblings and ruminations


A story a day keeps the boredom away: SF and Fantasy story reviews


Pluralism and Individuation in a World of Becoming

the sinister science

sf & critical theory join forces to destroy the present

Short Story Magic Tricks

breaking down why great fiction is great

Xeno Swarm

Multiple Estrangements in Philosophy and Science Fiction

fiction review

(mostly) short reviews of (mostly) short fiction

A Just Recompense

I'm Writing and I Can't Shut Up

Universes of the Mind

A celebration of stories that, while they may have been invented, are still true

Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Make Lists, Not War

The Meta-Lists Website

From Earth to the Stars

The Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine Author & Editor Blog

SFF Reviews

Short Reviews of Short SFF

Featured Futures

classic science fiction and more

Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch

Witchcraft, Magick, Paganism & Metaphysical Matters

Pulp and old Magazines

Pulp and old Magazines

Matthew Wright

Science, writing, reason and stuff

My Colourful Life

Because Life is Colourful

The Astounding Analog Companion

The official Analog Science Fiction and Fact blog.

What's Nonfiction?

Where is your nonfiction section please.

A Commonplace for the Uncommon

Books I want to remember - and why

a rambling collective

Short Fiction by Nicola Humphreys

The Real SciBlog

Articles about riveting topics in science

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

The Subway Test

Joe Pitkin's stories, queries, and quibbles regarding the human, the inhuman, the humanesque.

SuchFriends Blog

'...and say my glory was I had such friends.' --- WB Yeats

Neither Kings nor Americans

Reading the American tradition from an anarchist perspective


Speculations on the Future: Science, Technology and Society

I can't believe it!

Problems of today, Ideas for tomorrow


Peter Webscott's travel and photography blog

The Wonderful World of Cinema

Where classic films are very much alive! It's Wonderful!

The Case for Global Film

'in the picture': Films from everywhere and every era

A Sky of Books and Movies

Books & movies, art and thoughts.

Emily Munro

Spinning Tales in the Big Apple


hold a mirror up to life.....are there layers you can see?

Being 2 different people.

Be yourself, but don't let them know.

%d bloggers like this: