How have your reading habits changed over the years?

And do you think it’s internet or aging related?

I used to be a voracious reader. I’d read anything sci-fi or fantasy related, two to three books a week at least. But then I reached the point where’d I’d read all the old classics and there weren’t very many new books coming out that appealed to me. Plus I think I grew a lot less tolerant of crappy writing, even if the plot was good.

Went through a classic lit phase and then stopped. This coincided with my trying to learn Japanese and spending all my energy on that. I also used to read a lot of popular science and math books. Pretty much stopped when I started college again full-time and stopped having much time to read.

Now I only read maybe 12 books a year. And I was the consummate bookworm growing up, with my nose always buried in a book. But I spend a lot of time online so I think the average number of words I read a day has probably remained about the same. I do worry that I’m losing my ability to read and process dense chunks of information.

So has anyone else noticed big changes in their reading habits? Do you think it’s becasue you grew out of certain genres, gained new different interests, or has the internet taken up the slack?

I hadn’t thought of the internet having anything to do with it, but thinking it over, you have hit the nail on the head for me.

I still read a lot, but nothing like I did before. The time I once spent reading books I now spend on the net, more or less.

On the other hand, the internet has been a tremendous encouragement to my writing, so it’s not all bad.

Besides, like you, I find there aren’t that many new books I want to read. Probably there would be if I looked hard enough, but I don’t.

I don’t think the web has replaced my book-reading, but I do read fewer magazines and newspapers than I used to.

I would probably read during 80% of my waking hours if given a choice. However, my pesky family and pets and job conspire against me. I’m lucky to get twenty minutes a day, and it’s usually not good quality time either (TV in the background, interruptions, etc.) Some days I never crack a book at all. :frowning:

I’ve noticed that I read a lot more non-fiction now. It’s much easier when you have to start and stop a lot. With fiction, you need to be able to immerse yourself. When the last Stephen King book came out, I got up around 4:00 in the morning to read, just so I could have sufficient time and peace.

My habits have changed in that I simply read far more than I used to. A few years ago in my late teens I would have been reading about a book or two a month, if that (although, funnily enough, I would have classed reading as a hobby). Now, I try to hold a pace of a book a week, although I would like it to be higher.

Working in a bookshop helps a lot in that regard, although it can be frustrating to keep seeing books that you know you want to read in the future but will probably never get round to.

I think I’m reading more widely these days, and I usually keep to an alternating pattern of fiction to non-fiction to keep things interesting. Still, although I enjoy reading immensely, I find it hard to read for long stretches - in the evenings I’m distracted by the Internet and my housemates’ TV-watching, and I lapse into gaming and net-surfing on the weekends. Most of my reading gets done during breaks at work and in the half-hour in bed before I succumb to sleep.

Ditto. I used to subscribe to a daily paper and a half-dozen or more magazines of differing publication frequencies. I’d usually get to the paper every day but I’d accumulate multiple issues of even the most infrequently published magazines until I steeled myself to plow through them. The subscriptions started expiring and I neither had the ready money or the interest to renew them. I’m down to a single magazine that apparently I renewed for some bizarre length of time and I’ve pretty much decided not to renew it when it finally does expire because it’s changed its style and focus significantly and I don’t much care for it.

I’d say television watching has done more damage to my book reading than the web has. I’m frequently online and watching TV at the same time but I can’t remember the last time I read a book with the TV on.

I always was, and still am, a voracious reader, normally having bookmarks in 4 to 6 books at a time. The mix was usually around 50%scifi 45%fantasy 5%other. These days it’s more like 90%scifi 10%other. With the other still including fantasy. Can’t really point to a single cause, just the way my tastes have changed over the years.

I used to read anything with a cover and a number of books without covers. I even was a part owner of a bookstore when I was younger. I read science fiction, mystery, history, biography, westerns, travel, classics, best sellers, just about everything but romance. But as I have aged, I have realized that about 70 percent of most things written is drek. I have slowed down my reading. I am reading about a book every 10 days or so.

I used to gobble up books. Now, however, I savor them a bit more. I used to never quit a book I had started. Now, if it hasn’t sold me by mid-book, I put it down.

I read a lot less fiction, particularly SF and Fantasy, than I used to. I used to read or re-read a novel or two a month, sometimes a week. Now I barely read 5 or 6 novels a year, mostly the latest book in a series with which I have a long-term commitment, such as Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire or (yes, still) Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, even though I’ve been kind of bitter about the last few books in it. (I have managed to go completely off Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series, though, for some time now.)

Actually, that’s not entirely true: last summer, on a friend’s longstanding recommendation, I did pick up and tear through three 3-in-1 omnibus books by R. A. Salvatore in about two weeks (The Icewind Dale Trilogy, The Dark Elf Trilogy and The Legacy of the Drow Trilogy). That was the first time in quite a few years that I’ve done something like that, which I used to do all the time.

I read (and even re-read) more non-fiction now, that I never used to do until a few years after college. The books I’ve most recently read or re-read are The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker, The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould, The Island of the Colorblind by Dr. Oliver Sacks, and When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein.

I also read a lot more magazines and newspapers than when I was younger, or even just five years ago (I’m now 37). I read or at least scan The NY Times and the Wall St. Journal every day as well as skim the NY Daily News, NY Post and NY Newsday for local news coverage, all online (all for free, except for the WSJ). In terms of actual printed periodicals, I subscribe and generally read most of every issue of The Economist, Scientific American, Natural History, Archaeology and The Bridge World.

Moved from IMHO to CS.

You’re me! How you doin?

In high school I used to enjoy almost any scifi/fantasy book, so long as it was decently written. A lot of them weren’t very good, and I knew this, but I still had no trouble entertaining myself.

Then I went to college, made some friends with similar tastes in fiction, spent many hilarious hours with them throughout the semester, wholeheartedly trashing poorly written works in extremely creative ways, and returned for winter break to find that, while I still loved the good books, I had a lot of trouble amusing myself with pulp fiction of any sort. (Mercedes Lackey is my best example of this: I read her best books first, decided I liked her style, and came back after a semester to find that what used to be amusingly campy storylines and simple writing had morphed into what was, in my view, almost unbearably bad storytelling.)

Oh yes, discovering TV Tropes didn’t help much, either.

I used to read a lot more, and before I started university I was in a Steinbeck phase. Now I don’t read for pleasure, despite my best attempts. The last time I finished a novel that I didn’t have to read for class was when the last Harry Potter came out. That was a shamefully long time ago…

I can’t wait to graduate. I have Children of Hurin collecting dust on the bookshelf. I miss losing myself in words for hours on end and enjoying it.

Two major trends, one (hopefully) temporary, and one that seems permanent.

First, being in grad school means that I do very little reading for fun anymore. I have no time to do so, and it’s too tempting to read if I start a book, and not work. It’s part of me having cut out pretty much everything I do for fun. I still read a ton, obviously, but scholarly non-fiction that I need to really grok isn’t fun like fiction is.

Second, I used to be much less discriminating. I started to reread the first book in the Shannara series recently, which I loved when I was younger, and it was TERRIBLE. Truly awful - completely formulaic and predictable and cheesy and derivative. I’m actually sort of sad that I’ve gotten snobbier, because reading trashy books used to be lots of fun.

Let’s see …

In grade school I read a lot of age-appropriate “general fiction” - usually mild “adventure” stories featuring a young boy protagonist. I was a big fan of stuff like the Henry Huggins books, Encyclopedia Brown, and what have you.

By junior high I had discovered science fiction, and read almost nothing but sci-fi all the way through high school (disregarding “required reading for school” crap like Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, and that dreadful book about all the boys killing each other on an island somewhere, the name of which escapes me. Wait … oh yeah, The Lord of the Flies. Shudder.) In particular, I discovered Asimov, and by the time I finished high school in 1984 I had read probably 90% of the fiction he’d written up to that point.

Thanks to a solitary semester at college where I discovered the joy of private investigator TV shows like Mike Hammer, I mostly abandoned sci-fi and for a few years devoured mysteries. I found a handful of wonderful, prolific authors like Lawrence Block (the Bernie Rhodenbarr “Burglar” novels), H.R.F. Keating (Inspector Ghote), and Georges Simenon (Inspector Maigret) and read everything by them I could get my hands on. That lasted for a few years.

Through my 20s I did more drinking than reading, but I managed a good mix of mysteries, science fiction, and pulp action/adventure novels (like Mack Bolan’s The Executioner books). Also lots of Star Wars and Star Trek novels, as well as novels set in the Shadowrun roleplaying game universe.

In my early 30s I surprised myself by discovering that I enjoyed historical fiction, particularly when set in “ancient history”. I read a bunch of W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O’Neal Gear’s “The First North Americans” books. Another good find was Peter Danielson’s Children of the Lion, a series of well over 20 books set in the Biblical Old Testament times. The series basically retold most of the historical portions of the Old Testament, but from the point of view of a family of non-Hebrew blacksmiths who interacted with the Hebrews/Israelites through the generations. (Somewhat amusing side note on this series: I inadvertently stumbled upon a plagiarist on the Web. Some guy had posted, online, what he claimed was his own original novel, called “Children of the Lynx”. I started reading, and within a few paragraphs it was sounding awfully familiar. I grabbed my copy of Children of the Lion and started comparing. The “Lynx” story was a word-for-word copy, except the guy had apparently transcribed the entire book into his word processor and then used search & replace to change “Lion” to “Lynx” and to change all the character names and city names. He was partway through the third novel in the series when I found him. Giving him the benefit of the doubt by assuming he must be some dumb high school or college kid, I dropped him an e-mail and suggested he knock that shit off before the original author and/or publisher caught him at it. Within a couple days the whole thing was gone from his Web site.)

In my mid-to-late 30s I got into fantasy in a big way, mostly through discovering Piers Anthony. I’m still mostly reading fantasy these days, with the occasional sci-fi book thrown in for variety. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been reading Dungeons & Dragons novels almost exclusively, mostly the Dragonlance and Eberron books (and also a couple of Forgotten Realms trilogies).

The one consistent thing I’ve noticed in my reading patterns, going all the way back to grade school and regardless of genre, is that I’m a big fan of ongoing series and authors whose novels are all set in the same fictional universe (this extends to multiple authors writing in a shared universe). I think what I really like is being able to get to know a particular character in-depth, in a way that you can’t get from just a single novel, and exploring a particular world over the course of many novels.