It’s no secret that I love to read. There are very few things I would rather do than spend an afternoon curled up with a good book. I can spend hours reading, the more time I have to devote to a book, the better.
So why am I unable to read a newspaper or magazine article in its entirety?
I start with good intentions. I sit down with the paper every Sunday morning and promise myself I will read every single first paragraph. And at least three full articles.
By the third page of the first section, I’m totally skimming the headlines, maybe reading a sentence here or there.
And when I come to an article that is a full page long, I groan.
I know the information is important, or at least some of it is important, but the news is so freaking boring.
Miss Manners? Ann Landers? Dilbert? Those I read. A two column article on the tenuous peace agreement in the Gaza Strip? Can’t get through it.
I’m the same with magazines.
Last year my mother thoughtfully bought me a subscription to Writers Digest. When it arrives every month I look at the cover and think, “Look at all those relevant articles! I want to know how to master descriptions through sensory details! I want to know how to weave a seamless back story!”
I flip through the pages and read the contest winners, the letters to the editor and the fake rejection letter. I read the call outs in the articles and then set the magazine aside.
I plan to go back to it, to read about back stories and sensory details. But I just don’t do it.
Or I start, get a couple of paragraphs in and set the magazine back down again.
So why can’t I make it through these articles? I’m semi-intelligent and I’m a reader. If I can read five or six hundred page novels, why not a two page magazine article?
It’s not that I hate the news or want to be oblivious to what’s happening in the world. I listen to public radio. I have several news apps on my phone.
I just prefer fiction. I can appreciate the effort that goes into well-written non-fiction; I just don’t enjoy reading it.
I want a good story, to be involved with a character instead of told about an event or how to do something.
If the reporters wrote their articles like a short story, focusing on the characters (ok, people) and making me feel something for them, I would love reading the newspaper.
When I was growing up my grandmother used to read “True Story” magazine, which was like a combination of a reality show and a Lifetime movies on paper.
I devoured those stories about women who ran away after their husbands beat them up or whose daughter became a hooker and had to be rescued from the street.
Why can’t all newspaper articles be like that instead of spouting statistics on spousal abuse and teenage prostitution?
It’s tragedic stuff, but at least it could be entertaining.