Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | February 17, 2016

Flash Reading

Over the last five years I found that I do a lot of reading on my phone using the Kindle app. For those that have never read on their phone, I can tell you that it’s an acquired familiarity. It’s best for reading in typically short increments of time, something usually reserved for an article, email, facebook post, or something like that.

I found that by adding a collection of short stories that I’ve read before (and obviously don’t mind reading again), I gave myself an activity for those times spent on the elevator, waiting for the bus, or being anywhere where I wish I brought a book. For me, the Sherlock Holmes stories and H.P. Lovecraft’s stories were my top “quick-read” choices. I never get tired of the stories and they always pull me into the story very quickly. It became a very familiar activity for me to read in brief increments, sometimes only a minute at a time. Plus, there’s something comforting about being able to fit reading in my schedule this way.

I already have a Kindle, and since any e-books are automatically available on all devices (that you have Kindle software installed) I can access my e-books on my phone as well. This is where reading a novel (a short one) wasn’t such a crazy idea. Not all novels are ideal for reading in short increments of time, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how I’ve adapted to it. At this time, I’ve read a number of novels and short story collections on my phone in temporary situations like being on an elevator or waiting for the bus. Most of the reading is done while standing. This fact is amusing to me as well as uplifting.

Besides an instant escape from whatever you’re doing or wherever you are, flash reading has several notable benefits. For one, it is therapeutic in that many of us have to adapt to be able to “instantly” get into reading. Maybe we like to be comfortable and be more relaxed to read. Since I adapted to flash-reading, I found that being able to instantly stop the world and read for a minute or two eases stress. I’m making a statement, “The world can stop for a minute, I’m reading now.”

Another benefit is my appreciation for the written word. There are some sentences that are better than others for pulling you into the story. It might be the setting of the story or it could be the words chosen. When it’s really notable, I find that I notice it and relish it more. I appreciate it more.

One book that I purchased is “Dropped Names”, by the wonderfully talented actor Frank Langella. This is a compilation of some of his interactions with famous people he’s known throughout his career. If you’ve not heard him speak, I encourage you to find some of his interviews on the internet. You will find him a concise and soft-spoken man with a voice that reminds you of his Broadway experiences. I can hear his voice while reading his memoir in Dropped Names, and his accounts are enjoyable and lasting for short reading. On a side note, I also find his interviews relevant to writing, particularly when he speaks of getting into character, etc.

If you were to get into flash-reading like this (or are already well-acquainted with it), what would be your go-to stories/authors?

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