With the age of social media and advanced technology, the classic task of sitting down and reading a novel appears more unfamiliar than ever before.
Per the Times’ website, “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.”
Humans’ attention spans have devolved with not only the rise of new technologies, but also the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving little room for more activities such as reading or writing.
The COVID-19 pandemic secluded people to their homes for months on end, leaving free time to peruse the Internet for entertainment. According to the Times’ website, “In a recent survey of 300 American workers, about 40% said they feel less productive than usual during the pandemic.”
The staff of “The Auburn Plainsman” breaks that mold of substituting literature for technology. A survey of the staff showed what the people of “The Auburn Plainsman” have been reading recently.
Abigail Stephenson, community writer for The Plainsman, said she is currently reading “Till We Have Faces,” a fictional work by C.S. Lewis. Lewis summarized, “‘Till We Have Faces” is a retelling of Cupid and Psyche. This representation of an old story has lived in the author’s mind, thickening and hardening with the years, ever since he was an undergraduate.
“I love this book because Lewis uses characters and fantasy settings to tell a story of redemption and spirituality that I have been able to relate to in my life,” Stephenson said.
While the staff reads a variety of different kinds of books, the majority of the staff is currently reading a fiction novel.
Another fiction work being read by a Plainsman staff member is “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah.
“‘The Nightingale” tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France,” Hannah said.
A couple of Plainsman staff members share a common favorite: “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley.
The novel follows the lives of six strangers whose lives are all jointly connected by a green notebook, filled with their deepest truths about their lives.
Abigail Murphy, operations editor for The Plainsman, is reading two works of fiction, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, and “The Te of Piglet” by Benjamin Hoff.
“I have been wanting to read ‘Little Women’ for a long time, but it’s also taking me forever to read because of all the reading I have to do for school,” she said. “I hope to finish it when I actually have time.”
Murphy enjoyed “The Te of Piglet” so much that she is reading it for a second time.
“‘The Te of Piglet” is a re-read and it’s about applying Taoism philosophy to Winnie the Pooh characters. I can tell I’m overwhelmed, in general, so I put a pause on “Little Women” to recenter myself with some Taoism ideas.”
Another Plainsman staff member is reading “Dune” by Frank Herbert.
“Dune” is a science fiction novel with dystopian ideas, written in 1965. Herbert wrote, “Set on the desert planet Arrakis, “Dune” is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.”
Callie Stanford, Plainsman sports writer, is also reading a nonfiction work titled, “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep.
“It’s a super interesting novel,” Stanford said. “I had heard there was a Harper Lee book in the works that was never found, so it’s super cool to read about the facts of the case and it’s basically a local history lesson.”
A few Plainsman staff members are occupying their time with nonfiction works, such as “Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum and “Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism” by Heather Berg.
With a mix of fiction and nonfiction, both serious and lighthearted themes, The Plainsman staff reads books all across the board.
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Harlee Meydrech, sophomore in public relations with a minor in business, is the assistant culture editor at The Auburn Plainsman.