by

Birthday Purge

It’s the end of a long day, and as I enter the next year of my life I think it’s time to revisit some of my reading habits.

My routine for reading hasn’t changed much over the past decade. My attention has mostly been on blogs, the New York Times, and The New Yorker. Some things have changed a bit. I used to buy copies of The New Yorker to read in coffee shops and on the train; these days I’ve been reading it on their new app. I used to read the Times on my laptop and have completely switched to their apps as well.

For years I read only a few websites and visited them in browser tabs; I switched to an RSS reader on an iPod touch and then on an iPhone about 7 years ago. For the past year or so I finally started using Twitter to find links to interesting articles to read. I’ve done the bulk of my reading on iOS in Instapaper for the past 7 years as well.

Reeder (my RSS app of choice) and Instapaper (which I use to read articles from the web offline) placed prominently on my phone's dock.

Reeder and Instapaper have been steadfast companions for years.

The blogs I read have shifted. There’s more diversity among the writers I follow, and I’ve been reading more blogs by teachers than I used to. I’ve all but stopped reading about web development.

After today I feel like the constant stream of information isn’t always what I want every day. I’ve had inklings in the past that I’m overloaded with things to read, and have developed strategies for pruning over the years. But for the past several months, I’ve noticed a change: I spend much more time identifying things I want to read than actually reading them. If I don’t read something right away, I’m unlikely to ever revisit it.

I also rarely read entire books anymore. My reading strategy has been to read sections or chapters of books about things I’m interested in. Even that has lessened in recent years as I’ve adopted a full-time teaching schedule.

My home screen with Notes and iBooks where Reeder and Instapaper used to be.

Goodbye constant stream, hello slow-paced reading and writing.

So my birthday present to myself is to give myself a break and a nudge.

I want to give myself more opportunities to read books again, take away the daily distractions, and prompt myself to jump into writing more often.

No rules or requirements, just a gentle reminder when I take out my phone looking for something to do.