Online Reading:How Much is Too Much?

Since I was a little girl, I have been a compulsive reader. I read everything that was available to me. 
In the 1950's, children were expected to visit family and friends with their parents but there was little provision of entertainment. I was older than many of the children of my parents' friends and I was 11 before my first cousin was born. I learned to take a book along or read what was available. That could be Shakespeare or the Bible.

Books were my friends, my sanctuary and my means of transcendence over a world that seemed to me quite grey and monotonous. My favourite books were about young women who wanted to write or to travel the world. I was Jo not Amy or Meg or Beth in Little Women and I read a collection of Beverly Gray books that had belonged to my mother. Beverly went away to college and eventually found love and adventure as a foreign correspondent.

 Beverly is portrayed as an extraordinarily determined individual: "There was a driving ambition in her heart that would not let her idle her life away."

I'm a literature major (French and English) who understands what a prof in my second year meant when she said that Madame Bovary would be experienced differently depending on the age and the experience of the reader. In short, reading expands my interior life and brings ideas and experiences into my day to day living.

In the last six years, since I formally retired, I have grown more and more attached to my laptop computer. When I was living in Paris, my friend introduced me to Janice MacLeod's blog, Paris Letters, written by a fellow Canadian who was living in my neighbourhood. I enjoyed reading Janice's blog and quickly became a devotee of another blog, The Vivienne Files, written by Janice Riggs.

I used to buy a lot of clothing when I was working. I liked colour and print but I tended to buy "outfits" instead of creating an integrated capsule wardrobe. After my retirement, I travelled almost 6 months of the year. Since I travelled alone, a compact, cohesive wardrobe was important. The Vivienne Files gave me the tools to simplify my life.

My blog reading grew and grew to include lifestyle blogs, wardrobe blogs, travel blogs and book blogs. On waking, I check to see if there are any new posts by my favourite bloggers. Blogging has created an online community.

My online reading has expanded to include an subscription to the New York Times. I don't read the whole paper but start with the "my daily briefing" feature and then follow links to other articles of interest. I am a research type of person. Whenever I am discussing a topic, I want to know the accurate information upon which to base my thesis. Again, I'm reading on the computer.

My friend and I are going to a movie this and showtimes will help us make our
selection. My kitchen needs painting...Pinterest...and on it goes.  I follow activities of friends in Oaxaca and family in Shetland on Facebook. Our 'Portal' from work keeps me informed about events and policies at school.

How much is too much? I am not a hermit chained to my laptop.  I also walk, talk to friends, clean the apartment, do laundry, cook, work 3 days a week and read at least 10 books in a month. Clearly, my Internet reading has increased tenfold in six years. How do you use the Internet? Has your use increased substantially in the last few years? How much is too much? I'd love to know.


  1. My usage is about the same as yours. I don't worry about the on-line time, given the balance with other activities, but I do think I'm sitting way too much!

    1. I find that I am sitting too much too. I'm planning to walk home from school (2 miles)
      in the new year.

  2. I read far more on line than I thought I would. A couple of years ago I realized that my book reading was declining, so since then, I've made a point of keeping up with printed books, between 4 and 8 per month. Teaching does cut into reading time! I'm looking forward to reading more books when I retire in a few years.
    The amount of information available through the internet is staggering. I remember reading once that in this "information age" the key would be reading critically and synthesizing what we read.
    I, too, read constantly as a child. My younger sister and brother claim that their only memories of me as a child are of my nose stuck in a book. Methink they exaggerate!

    1. Yes, I have noticed my paper (print) reading has declined but I still have 2 bookclubs to read for. I do question how reading will occur in the future and it makes me wonder what my role as a teacher-librarian really is. In a dual track school (French-Immersion), what will the FI kids read? Maybe, they didn't exaggerate!

  3. I have reduced the amount of time that I spend online but have increased the amount of time that I sit and knit! I find it relaxing and we are currently going through a family crisis and this is one of the ways that I am coping. Today the rains were torrential and I only had a short walk but I did make the effort...good for you if you start the walk home from school getting exercise and reducing your carbon footprint!

  4. You knit some wonderful pieces. I never learned how but Daughter wants to take a class perhaps I can join her. A few years ago, my husband worked out of town and I walked a much shorter distance to school every day. I was amazed how pounds dropped off just with the consistency of walking.

    Take care of yourself in your difficult time,


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