Going back to reading after years on social media

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

By Milena Parotti / 11.01.2020

Do you remember how nice it was to read books in your childhood? Between fantasy and adventure, we got lost in far away worlds that seemed very close to us. So close, that we could almost touch them, see them, hear them. Hours went by and we couldn’t move away from heroes and heroines, characters with superpowers, wizards and witches. Nowadays it’s not so easy to simply sit down and get lost in a good book, or at least not for everyone.

In the last 10 years smartphones and social media have been drawing our attention more and more. Many people among us, especially the young ones, spend around 2 or 3 hours per day glued to a smartphone, jumping from one social media to the next. We are more and more connected to each other, and this turned out to be a great technological help during the pandemic, as it allowed us to keep in touch with friends and family. At the same time, though, we are constantly distracted, even when we work, study, watch a movie or read a book.

Reading, most of all, is an activity that we find increasingly difficult and heavy. Our attention span and our concentration have reduced in time, we have gotten used to spending only a few seconds on every post, article, picture, or video that we see online. Reading, instead, is a linear activity that requires time. And time is something we think we never have enough of, as if someone stole it from us.

Maybe time was actually stolen; those 2 or 3 hours we spend daily  on social media, in the past we would have used to watch a movie, call far away friends, play board games or, why not, read a nice old book. And every year we promise ourselves to read more, because we know it would reduce our stress, improve our memory, make us learn new things, and simply make us feel better! But how can we get back those lost hours? With some commitment we can re-learn to read, to really read, with no distractions.

To this end, we at MH want to share with you three tips and tricks:

  1. Choose a book you really like

More often than not we promise ourselves we’re going to read the classics, those books everyone recommends, that you need to read at least once in your life. Nevertheless, those books are often the slowest ones, that require more attention, and that with our low attention span are not so easy to read. In order to go back to reading after many years on social media the best thing to do is to choose an easy and quick book, something captivating and maybe even funny. And even if you already own a lot of books to be read, it’s worth it to swing by the bookstore or the library and pick up a more suitable book that will help you start reading again.

  1. Feel free to read when you want, as much as you want

How many times have we started the new year, on the 1st of January, thinking “this year I’m going to read 20, 30, or rather 50 books!”? But why are we asking ourselves to achieve unattainable goals? We read to relax and reduce stress, not to increase it! Among the Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac we also have: the right to skip, the right not to finish a book, and the right to dip in. Therefore, no more restrictions!

  1. Talk about books with other people

We don’t all have friends and relatives who enjoy reading, but we can always go back to technology if needed. Social media are not only tempter devils that distract us from reading, on the contrary. There is also a social network meant for readers: Goodreads. There, you can build your virtual bookshelves, discover new readings, take part in book discussions and a lot more. The most common social media are also useful in this sense, you can discover communities of readers (such as #bookstagram), where everyone can share reviews and advice. Or you can take part in virtual book clubs, and even create your own.

What about you? Which methods do you employ to dedicate some time to reading, without letting yourselves get distracted?


Milena Parotti (Italy)

Studies: Public and political communication

Languages: Italian, English, French, German

Europe is… a big family where differences are strengths.


Alex Jedwab (binational Swiss/British)
Studies: MA in English
Languages: English, French, German and Italian
Europe is... my home!

Author: alessandra

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