Everyone is distracted.
Seriously, I followed two different anti-doomscrolling bots on Twitter, because, well :: gestures around :: there’s a lot going on and a lot to keep up with and pictures of cats and dogs and… and I can feel my attention span contracting. That dopamine merry-go-round is pretty powerful, and what with needing to keep up with natural disasters (Alaska, California, Florida, Dominican Republic/Haiti/Cuba …) and world events (Britain, Iran) and politics (like the latest Rolling Stone piece on Officer Fanone)… it’s so so so easy to just scroll and scroll and scroll while your TBR sits there frowning at you… but you go to read a page in a longform book and you just sort of stare at it while your neurochemistry frantically tries to adjust.
For a professional editor to lose their capacity to concentrate is a bad thing. Enter Sookie Stackhouse.
The books were used as the foundation for the wildly popular TV show True Blood, which had almost nothing to do with the plot of the books, unfortunately. I gave up on the show pretty fast, but the books are another story entirely.
I started reading those books when we lived on our boat near Galveston. I could sit out in the cockpit, with the moon shining through the misty night, and hear the catfish jumping, while reading about Sookie engaging in misadventures with the (sadly, fictitious) supernatural community of Bon Temps, Louisiana. The setting made the whole thing so much more vibrant, and I binge-read the entire series, end to end.
Charlaine Harris creates an easy-to-understand world that’s just barely not our current reality. It’s so accessible, so light, while still dealing with real issues and just enough intrigue to keep you hooked. They’re just delighful mindfluff kinds of books. And I have discovered that they are the perfect thing to deal with my doomscrolling-induced short attention span. I can drop into a Sookie novel, get caught up in the not-very-challenging story, and before long, my brain has readjusted to long form reading.
I have used this trick allllllll the way through the pandemic, and I suspect I will keep using it. And it’s funny, because people have all kinds of opinions on light reading or lesser reading — there’s so much judgement about it. Your reading time should be literary! formal! informative! important! But honestly, folks, keeping up with the Sook is no keeping up at all, and if it puts my neurochemistry back in order, well, that’s some of the most important reading I’ve ever done.
So go out and get you some mindfluff reading. And apologize to no one for it.