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Sam van Zweden

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reading anxiety

Thought-stalking Jacinda Woodhead and Google Reader “test”

Right when I was thinking about whether I read enough, Jacinda Woodhead (of Meanland) blogs about Reading Anxiety.

Through that post, I was convinced that Google Reader was worth a look-in. So for the last week I’ve been giving it a test-run. And then Jacinda Woodhead blogged about Google Reader stealing all your reading time.

Dear Jacinda Woodhead – props on some awesome writing, but you’re stealing my blog posts. And I’m feeling mildly creepy for this unintentional thought-stalking. S

Okay, now that’s out of the way: Google Reader.

I’d seen a little mention of it via Gmail, and disregarded it as part of the Google-plan-of-taking-over-the-world. Then I started to see mentions of it everywhere: on Twitter, on trams, on blogs. Everyone’s been mentioning this magical program that takes hours off your online-reading time.

How? Well, Google Reader is a program to which you plug in all the websites you would ordinarily go to every day to check for updates. For me, this is many many. Many.

I’m a hardcore advocate for Gmail. I wouldn’t go back to any other email client if you paid me. So when I got onto Google Reader I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it runs in much the same way as Gmail. It constantly updates itself (while you’re in it) and makes it really easy to organise material.

You can “star” things in the same way as on Gmail, to come back to important things later. You can search through a huge amount of blog posts to find just the right one. You can view posts in a heap of different ways according to what suits you best.

The only thing is, now there’s NO posts that I miss, anywhere, ever. Now Google Reader is something that adds to my reading anxiety. Having said that, Google Reader saves these posts like unread emails – it sits in bold until I have an afternoon free to catch up on things that aren’t priority.

It’s great though. I’m chuffed. Now, along with Twitter, Facebook and WordPress, I have Google Reader constantly open. It runs calmly in the background. Right now it’s telling me that there is “(1)” new post that I haven’t read. “(1)” website that I would have had to trawl for new content, but now I don’t.

Google Reader is like hiring someone to do all the inane click-and-scroll shit that takes up a heap of your reading time. I don’t know how I did without it.

Reading Anxiety

Am I reading enough? I constantly ask myself.

Jacinda Woodhead at Meanland says no.

Jacinda talks about the guilt she feels when she does other things instead of reading. I get this. Somehow in my mind, reading has a privileged place which nothing else quite lives up to, meaning that anything else I do with my time creates guilt – apart from writing. That’s worthy. But the two should certainly be balanced and in much higher quantities that they are right now.

This last week I’ve had the flu, completed (to genuine satisfaction, too) three out of four assessment pieces that are due next week, organized a great many overdue things and put things in order… All of these things, including the homework, made me feel guilty for not reading. Somehow homework reading doesn’t feel like it counts. Most of it, anyway.

So Jacinda talks about all the different sources of reading she has, and it’s no wonder she hasn’t got enough time to keep up with it all. I know this feeling, and I’m sure you do too.

Jacinda talks about Google Reader – are any of you guys onto this? I’m not, but I know I have a few readers who are. I check back to a LOT of different blogs daily, so I think this would really help … but it has the potential to be very crap. So tell me, bloggosphere – to Google-Read, or not?

And Twitter – I’m well and truly into it now. I never knew I could get so much amazing independent news from one place! Honestly, there’s always something great offered to me via Twitter. I love it!
…but I also hate it. I follow 57 people on Twitter. and that adds up to a LOT of extra reading every day.

One problematic reading-source that Jacinda skips over pretty quickly is blogrolls.
You read someone’s post and they blow you away, and you wonder, “What does this person read?”  Enter the Blogroll… Some are so extensive that they take multiple visits to work through.

“I have so many books within arm’s reach waiting for my attention,” says Jacinda… Oh yes. The To-Be-Read Pile…
I thought I got smart on mine, I put many of them on my shelf. Not in a pile at all! Haha! Outsmarted, Reading Pile!
…but no. I took four of those books and put them next to my bed in a micro-TBR. I thought this would make it easier. Now when I go to bed I pick one until my eyelids won’t prop themselves open any longer. I don’t know if this has helped it or not though…

Jacinda also nods to awards lists and literary journals as incoming reading.

Besides these, I also have Classics (a very big pile and growing), books recommended by respected friends (friends who don’t read yet recommend things are ignored), review books for Yartz , and the supplementary stuff for school.

The world of literature is not shrinking. Does it scare the shit out of you?!

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