I don’t really read books these days. I read plenty of blogs and web development related things via Google Reader, but I almost never just sit down and read something in my free time. Sometimes I’m filled with guilt about it: surely I should be reading more, enriching my life and whatnot. But then I realized that it’s not because I hate reading that I don’t do it often, it’s because reading is anti-social.
I spend a large portion of my life reading and writing text from and to a computer screen. When I’m ready to put down the computer I’m also ready to have some actual face-to-face interaction with people. Reading is just about the only form of common leisure activity that can’t be enjoyed simultaneously by more than one person (unless one is reading aloud or being read aloud to).
Video games, board games, concerts, and even to a lesser extent movies and television are all social experiences. When I’m playing video games with my family and friends we also chat about this and that in gameplay lulls. Board games have always been social and my collection continues to grow. Movies and TV aren’t quite as social but during commercial breaks (Hulu, of course, not actual television which I abandoned years ago) or afterwards there is a new shared experience to talk about. Most forms of entertainment are about creating that shared experience. Reading is not.
Reading is an isolating experience: you have to concentrate on the story and separate yourself from the rest of the world. So I still read when I’m on a plane or alone on a business trip, when I find myself both without company and uninspired to be hacking on open source or another side project. Sometimes my wife and I even read aloud to each other when we’re both really interested in a book (or manga series). But I rarely read books these days, and I’m starting to feel ok about that.