I think it is not uncommon that avid readers read all sorts of things, not just books. Non-book reading I think of as extracurricular. Reading like blogs, news and magazines (print and digital). I’ve been considering my extracurricular reading of late since it has been piling up as fast as my books have it seems.
I subscribe to the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books in print. I am so behind on these that the date of the one I am currently reading is the end of June. I enjoy reading these but I have managed to get so far behind some of the essays are old news at this point and seem hardly worth reading so I skip right over them. You would think that it would help me get through them faster but somehow it doesn’t.
And then there are the digital magazines I get through my public library. Ever since I got my iPad in April and discovered this lovely service I have been sampling the various magazines on offer. They are quite diverse and most of the time of no interest (motorcycles, hunting, skiing, skateboarding, celebrity and fashion magazines), but still I manage to find plenty to read. I currently regularly get Harper’s, The Vegetarian Times, Smithsonian, Discover, Organic Gardening, Mother Earth News, American Poetry, Poets and Writers, and The Writer. I make occasional forays into New Scientist, Mother Jones, Knitter’s, Interweave Knits, Publisher’s Weekly and Earth. Most of these I just browse through and read an article here or an essay there, copy down a book title or a new recipe. Nonetheless, I have several I haven’t even looked at yet.
So why, why did I subscribe to the Paris Review two weeks ago? I got a one-year digital subscription. When I subscribed it was still the Summer issue they were sending out and I got a bonus older issue too. Then, three days later the Fall issue came out. I should have waited because I suspected the Fall issue was not far away but the Summer issue has a couple essays on the art of writing biography and one of them is by Hermione Lee so I didn’t wait. And now I am already behind. At least they are digital so there is nowhere for the dust bunnies to hide. And they only come quarterly so I have a remote chance of catching up.
I am not sorry for subscribing to the Paris Review. I have so far read a pretty good short story by Ben Lerner and since I don’t read many short stories in general I am thinking this is a good way to do that. And since each issue also has lots of poetry I might also discover a new favorite poet or two. So it is good. Except where do I find the time? When the choice is between reading a book and reading a magazine even one as good as Paris Review, I go for the book nine times out of ten. And that is why I am so behind on my extracurricular reading. I could cut back on the amount of extra reading, after all, I got along fine for years without all those magazines I get now through my library. But oh, there are so many interesting things out there to learn about especially in those science magazines. I will have to work a little on practicing restraint because I definitely won’t opt for reading fewer books.
What about you? What sort of extracurricular reading do you do and how do you find the time to fit it all in?