Debate It: Are You A Distracted Reader?

Welcome one, welcome all to our June Debate It! If this is your first time reading one of these, you can find a list of all our Debate Its here! The Debate It’s have been a monthly post on our blog for the past 6 months, which is totally crazy to us! We’re fast approaching our 1-year blogoversary, which means that the Debate Its have been a part of our blog for half of its existence! This Debate It in particular is a discussion-debate hybrid in which we compare what conditions we need to finish a book and how easy it is to distract us when we read!

Malka: Recently I mentioned to Chana that I felt like one sitting read must just be an expression. Because surely no one can sit in one place and finish a whole entire 300-page book. But apparently, I was wrong. Because in fact, Chana is one of those people who sits down and reads an entire book. My question is HOW?

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Malka’s reaction when she learned that one sitting reads are a literal thing

See, it’s not all about the size of the book to me or the speed that I read. Because I cannot even recall finishing graphic novels, which I can read pretty quickly, in one sitting. I fidget too much! I go on my phone. I go to use the bathroom. And once I take my focus off the book, I easily get distracted, and may not come back to the book until hours later. And I know that I probably have read something in one sitting, without getting distracted, but I genuinely can’t think of a single book off the top of my head.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we throw speed into the mix. The most likely thing for me to read in one sitting is a graphic novel or comic precisely because of the reading speed factor I mentioned. I believe I used to read faster, which is a whole other discussion post that has yet to be written, but regardless, I can no longer finish a 300-page book in an hour or two. And who can sit still for even an hour?

Chana: So here’s one thing I would like to clarify first. I don’t read books in one sitting on purpose. What usually happens is that I’ll start a book and it will all be nice and normal at first. And then flash forward an hour or two and I’m at the last page of the book. If a book is good I can get so immersed in it that I’ll block out everything else. I also have an annoying habit where if I don’t finish a book in one sitting, it will probably take me months and months to finish it.

Back in the day, I used to focus my attention on only one book at a time, but nowadays, when I have so many amazing books on my TBR, it’s hard to stay focused. Which means that I’m usually reading at least 5 books at once. This means that if I don’t finish a book in one sitting, it’ll probably stay on my currently reading shelf forever (this is one of the reasons I don’t add books to my currently reading unless I’m 50% through it. I wouldn’t be able to stand the shame.)

I’m also really good at blocking things out. This means that when I am reading, nothing exists besides me and my book. I’m one of those weirdos that listen to music while reading because my brain is able to hear the music but also block it out at the same time? Ever since I was a kid I’ve been reading books in one go, it’s just more convenient for me and otherwise, I drown under the sea of currently readings.

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All my currently readings piling up on top of me

Malka: While Chana may be good at blocking things out, I’m quite terrible at it. I have a pretty difficult time reading unless it’s absolutely silent. Or unless the sound I hear isn’t loud enough for me to process. So if I can hear a conversation going on, I won’t be able to read, but if that same conversation is going on at the same noise level but I can’t understand the words, I might be able to read. I say might because the noise level makes a difference too. As you might imagine this makes it really difficult to read. This sensitivity to noise has gotten worse recently, and I’m around more noise in general now, so at this point I’m often distracted from my reading.

angry wake up GIF by Looney Tunes

How it feels every time I try to read with noise

If I start reading something and someone comes home and starts making noise and talking on the phone, I will have to stop my reading. And in general, people have a nasty habit of interrupting my reading. There have been countless times when I’ve been called down to supper or asked an opinion on something while I’m trying to read. After a while I give up on reading a book until the person stops pestering me, which can take a while, and again, I usually get distracted once I put down my book, so even if I’m only bothered for 15 minutes, I probably won’t return to my book afterwards.

My last reason that I think I don’t read in one sitting anymore, is because I no longer have a good place to read. Sure, I have my bed, but the mattress is highly uncomfortable and I have to keep changing positions. After a while, I have to stretch and take a walk, and you guessed correctly, I get distracted! I used to have this big armchair I’d curl up in that I call Comfy Chair, but Comfy Chair got moved to the cold basement, far away from my room, so I rarely read in it anymore. But when I read in it years ago I was able to read for much longer periods of time. Alas, those times are now gone.

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Malka trying to find a comfortable reading position on her bed

Chana: That’s something else I don’t really have trouble with. I’m comfortable reading almost anywhere, I love reading on the floor and in all sorts of sitting positions. One thing I’m super proud of is how one Saturday, I sat on a couch in the same position for 8 hours straight! Regardless, I totally get how at times it may be hard to focus on reading. My little sister (she’s 11 wonderful years old) loves asking me questions while I’m reading. Which at times can be super annoying, since it’s a bit difficult to focus on reading when someone is asking you questions, but it’s also been super helpful in helping me block out things while reading.

Me @ my little sister anytime she tries to talk to me when I’m reading

I guess that at the end of the day, it’s each to their own. I get that it’s sometimes super hard to focus on reading when there are other things going on, but as long as we read what we love, it doesn’t matter how many sittings it takes to read a book.

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Are you more like Malka or Chana? Can you finish a book in one sitting no matter where you are? Or do you need a more focused environment like Malka?

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36 thoughts on “Debate It: Are You A Distracted Reader?

  1. I’d say I’m more like Malka – noise really gets to me when I’m reading. I used to able to block it out really well – I once used every free second of a holiday reading despite there constantly being noise around me – but now I seem to notice every little sound. Which especially sucks as my dad is ridiculously loud (I mean if I have the TV on in my room and he’s watching it downstairs I sometimes have to turn mine up to be able to hear it more clearly than his -_-). I do find that putting a fan on helps a bit as it just makes a sort of easy to tune out background noise which helps cover other sounds (and turning the TV down if that’s the issue as soon as he’s asleep :L) but I can’t exactly do that unless it’s fairly warm otherwise I just get cold.

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    1. Yay! Team Malka! Noise is definitely a big factor when it comes to my reading! I even get bothered by the bathroom vent being on when I’m trying to read! I can sometimes read with the fan or AC on, but I mostly prefer the dead silence of night when everyone else is sleeping and I can read in peace!

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      1. 😀 Oh that must be a total pain; I can block out repetitive sounds like that it’s things like the TV, conversations, loud music and just general noise that gets to me. I definitely like it at night when it’s totally silent though.

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  2. I definitely get distracted when reading books! I mean I can sit there for an hour or two (when I have time) and read a chunk of the book HOWEVER I am always on my phone or get up to get a drink, or food or just need to move!! So nope I can’t read and sit for ages and read a book as like you Malka I get distracted!!

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  3. I’ve finished quite a few books in one sitting, while having a bit of distractions (and 5 minutes breaks to grab a snack or go to the bathroom). I’ve done this with Wildcard by Marie Lu, City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, Defy me by Tahereh Magique or Sightwitch by Susan Dennard. I don’t know how it happens, I’m reading then I think “oh, one more chapter” and after a while I give up and just finish it. It’s a really interesting discussion!

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  4. I can’t do the long stretches like I used to, but that is mostly because of my garbage eyes. They start to hurt and water and then I can’t see. So, I do like hour chunks of reading. I find I am more distractible, when the book is dragging or I am not into it, but isn’t that true of most things?

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  5. My reading a book in one sitting is more like in one “laying.” I’ll start a book once I lay down for the night and then several hours later I’m at the end. But, this depends on a lot of factors including the size of the book.

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  6. Malka was literally me in this post it’s not even funny. Malka, I feel you so. Much. I think that I definitely have read a book in one sitting, especially as someone who has been a reader for a long time and can’t remember every book she’s read, but right now I just can’t fathom it. Even if the book is super short, I’ll probably think about taking a break for a second while reading it. And even if I feel a book pulling me in, I have yet to meet one in a long time that has pulled me in enough that I can inhale it in one sitting.

    I am one of those people who absolutely cannot read with background noise, especially if it’s music because my brain is going to be split between focusing on the lyrics and focusing on the book. I can’t even read if there’s a loud conversation near me because I involuntarily listen to the conversation! and it’s so hard to fine a comfortable reading spot. i’m lucky enough to have some couches and comfortable chairs that I love reading in, but I absolutely can’t read almost anywhere else, and especially not on my bed.

    Though I’m definitely more of a Malka, I also low key relate to Chana with books being on her currently reading shelf for months. I should really just add them when i finish halfway through, but I’m so eager to keep track of my reading through goodreads–it gives me so much joy. Currently The Bone Witch is just sitting untouched after I’ve read only fifty pages of it. I don’t think i’ve touched it since May :(( But I think putting books on my currently reading shelf holds me accountable that I should finish the book before moving on the other books because I already told people that I was currently reading it. (if that makes sense lol)

    oof i’m so sorry for the incredibly long comment, but this post brought up some really great discussions! i feel so much of Malka’s pain, and I’m incredibly jealous of Chana for being able to read books in just one sitting!

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    1. Honestly this is why I love posting discussions/Debate Its. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone in my bookish ways! And yes! My friend read our post and told me that I apparently read a book in one sitting in 8th grade. But I’m a Junior in college now, so it’s been quite a while if that’s the last time I read a book in one sitting! And there’s definitely that aspect of the book not being enough a pull to get me to keep reading. In those cases, I don’t even wait to get distracted, I end up distracting myself instead!

      YES! This is exactly why I can’t read on the train like everyone suggests! There are so many interesting conversations for me to listen to and my brain refuses to tune them out! I’d read more in couches and such if it didn’t mean people would try talking to me. It’s much easier to read in my room so that the chances of being talked to decrease dramatically!

      And I return books to the library without finishing them so often that it doesn’t make sense to put every book on my Currently Reading shelf immediately! Although I have a few that I own that have been on my Currently Reading shelf for a while. I don’t care about that too much because I’m a mood reader, so I know I’ll finish the book eventually, even if it is months from now!

      Don’t be sorry! I love long comments and frequently write them myself! I’m so glad you enjoyed the debate enough to write this whole comment! 💕

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  7. I’m more more like Malka with this– I get easily distracted by what is going on around me. If someone it talking or I’m listening to music I just end up reading the same line again and again. I wish I could read with noise going on. My favourite place to read is my bed (which luckily I find comfortable as I have lots of cushions) and that is usually quiet so I can read a lot there but sometimes my neighbour has the TV on really loud and I can hear it through the walls so I put my headphones on with no sound to try and make me concentrate on what I am reading, haha!!
    I love reading this– it was an interesting debate!! 🙂

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  8. Ahh, I’m definitely more like Chana here! What’s funny is that I just finished reading a book that I finished all in one sitting, so I know going into this post what ‘side’ I was going to be on. 😂I’m pretty much good to read anywhere or with any amount of noise (I can always block it out) as long as the book is really good?? It all depends on the book, though.

    Wonderful post as always! ❤

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  9. I’m totally Malka nowadays. I have trouble concentrating and get up and down. Fidget and get a drink. i can’t be distracted otherwise next thing I know its been an hour and I haven’t read a word. And I’m so used to how fast it is to read digitally that sometimes a book feels so dark that I can’t concentrate on the page. 😦 Every once in a while though when I feel under the weather I just sit in my favorite chair and finish whatever book I’ve been reading. Sometimes its almost an entire book. 😉 This is such a great little topic to think about!!

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    1. YES! Distractions get me every time! And that’s an interesting discovery. I don’t read e-books that often, but I think that I do get more distracted when I read them, because I’m read ebooks on my phone. Maybe that got translated into getting distracted when I read physical books as well! And reading when I’m sick is definitely a very different experience from reading when I’m well and have other obligations!

      Thank you! 💕

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  10. I’d say I’m more like Chana in this post. Malka, I feel you so much, it is annoying not being able to just get into a book. However, I definitely enjoy the chance to sit and read a book in one sitting. It isn’t good when it comes to dinner, or anything else though, because then I can’t hear people calling me to dinner and I get in a bit of trouble for making everyone wait…. whoops! If I don’t finish it before dinner (as an example) it will be the first thing I do afterwards, and sometimes in class, too! (although this isn’t the best tactic as my friend doesn’t take notes and then I get left behind… another whoops!)

    I find it really easy to read in nearly every situation, as my mum is always telling me to “leave my room” so I learnt to block out the TV while downstairs.
    Amazing and can’t wait for next months debate!
    -Emma 🙂

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    1. Hahaha, the same thing happens to me!! If I’m super engrossed in a book and I’m being called to dinner, it doesn’t matter how loudly anyone calls, I’m not going to hear it 😂 I also live in an apartment building in the city, and it’s usually pretty loud especially in the summer when people have block parties, so I’ve learnt to block things out pretty well too.

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  11. Is that a Zoboomafoo GIF I see???? Gosh, that brings be back. But anyways, what a fantastic discussion post! I honestly used to be more like Chana and would just read a whole book in a single sitting, but now I struggle to do that. Mostly, this is not because I get distracted, so much as I just don’t have the time to sit around as much (that can happen when you have a rambunctious toddler who likes to run around haha). I agree that noise is a real distractor for me – its so much easier to get into a story when things are quiet. But anyways, this was so interesting to read! Thanks for such a lovely post 💛

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    1. It might be? I am woefully ignorant when it comes to pop culture. I’m just happy when I find an accurate gif!

      I definitely hear how other things going on in your life impact your ability to read! I think I used to have more time to read as well, and as I’ve gotten busier I have less time to just sit and read and relax. And also, once I actually have the time to read, it’s too noisy!

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed! 💕

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    1. I get that! I do try to push myself sometimes if I can’t get into a book right away, especially if it’s a long book. But usually, if I’m not immediately drawn in, it’s probably a sign that I’m not going to enjoy the book very much. Though there are times where I do read a book I don’t like in one sitting too, sort of in a horrid fascination kind of way 😂

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  12. I’m a pretty fast reader, and I definitely prefer to finish books in one (or two) sittings. Otherwise I have to remember what happened! I’d rather just keep going and find out what’s going to happen next. I’m very good at blocking out my surroundings when i read.

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    1. 😂😂 That happens to me too sometimes! If I put down a book for too long, I won’t remember where exactly I was up to, or what exactly was going on. Being able to block out your surroundings when reading is THE BEST, it’s so convenient, and it helps me focus on the story way better.

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  13. I definitely can read a book in one sitting, but I don’t do it often anymore. Mostly because I have a husband and kids who rarely let me just sit and read for hours on end without wanting my attention. Nowadays, the only time I really manage to read a book in one sitting is when I read at night and everybody’s already in bed. I’ve been known to stay up way too late to keep reading!

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  14. I’m definitely far more of a Malka than a Chana 😉 XD I definitely can do it, and usually at my lunch hour at work, I can block things out. However, I usually try to take a break and check like Instagram or get a drink or have to do something around the house. I’m a person that can get a book down within a day, but I definitely have to take a break. Sha is actually a total Chana, and I’m constantly jealous of the ability to do it. Wonderful post!! 🙂

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