Two weeks ago I shared my March over-commitments with you, and now that we’re halfway through the month I can say with complete certainty that I will not make it through everything I hoped to read this month. I have three books on the go now: one for my short story project, another for a LibraryThing group read, and a third for a group read hosted by Rebecca @ Love at First Book.
From left to right: At the Owl Woman Saloon, Doctor Thorne, and In the Woods
Tess Gallagher’s stories are poetic and beautiful. Doctor Thorne is typical Trollope and good fun, and In the Woods is a gripping crime novel. The vast differences between these books make it somewhat easier for me to read them concurrently, but I can’t help feeling frustrated that I haven’t finished a book yet this month. I still hope to read The Beth Book, by Sarah Grand, my pick for the Classics Spin. But I’ll have to defer The Word Child, by Iris Murdoch and The Big Rock Candy Mountain, by Wallace Stegner. The latter was a LibraryThing group read, but it seems like a lot of folks are slow to start. With any kind of luck, the group read will still be going when I get to this book.
So there I was feeling frustrated about not being able to read it all, now, when suddenly my Google Reader exploded with news of Google Reader’s retirement on July 1. I was quickly distracted from reading books, and found myself obsessing on reading about Reader! Feelings ranged from outrage to resignation, and I pored through several articles recommending alternatives to my beloved RSS reader. I even test drove a couple of services, ultimately deciding that “plan A” is Feedly, which I use today, and which the company claims will seamlessly adapt when Reader disappears.
But wait. Not so fast. Along came The New Yorker, questioning the value of RSS feeds in the first place. And suddenly I saw myself not as a hip and hyper-connected blogger (which I surely am, LOL) but as a luddite, clinging to a cute but clumsy bit of retro tech. In Farewell, Dear Reader, Joshua Rothman wrote:
Reader was made for absurdly ambitious readers. It’s designed for people like me—or, rather, for people like the person I used to be—that is, for people who really do intend to read everything. You might feel great when you reach Inbox Zero, but, believe me, it feels even better to reach Reader Zero: to scroll and scan until you’ve seen it all. Twitter, which has replaced Reader (and R.S.S.) for many people, works on a different principle. It’s not organized or completist. There are no illusions with Twitter. You can’t pretend, by “marking it read,” that you’ve read it all; you don’t think you’re going to cram “the world of ideas” into your Twitter stream. At the same time, you’re going to be surprised, provoked, informed. It’s a better model.
Does anyone else find this mind-blowing? I am constantly in pursuit of “Reader Zero,” so much so that I usually find myself scanning post titles, reading one or two, starring a few more to read later, and then marking all as read and breathing a sigh of relief. And I do this several times a day, lest I miss something. Then I hop over to Twitter, and find many of my fellow bloggers there, tweeting the same posts I just saw on Reader. But they’ve also been chatting, and I’m usually too late to join in — the conversation moved on while I was busy “marking all as read.”
So I took a hard look at my Reader subscriptions and shifted the news I’m most likely to “mark read” to Twitter. Instant relief — no pressure about keeping up with those anymore! Now I’m considering shifting as many sources as possible to Twitter, and using Feedly only for my blogging friends who aren’t tweeting yet.
It feels kind of liberating already: no pressure to read it all, and I might even free up some time to read my books!
Do you still use RSS? Would work Twitter for you?